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Keywords:

  • continuous-contact brachiation;
  • lesser apes;
  • trunk and thigh movement;
  • quantitative kinematics

Abstract

In brachiating gibbons, it is thought that there is little movement in the hindlimb joints and that lateral body movement is quite limited. These hypotheses are based on naked-eye observations, and no quantitative motion analyses of the hindlimbs have been reported. This study quantitatively describes the three-dimensional movements of the lower trunk and distal thigh during continuous-contact brachiation in a white-handed gibbon (Hylobates lar) to evaluate the roles of the trunk and hindlimb. The results revealed that the lower trunk moved both laterally and vertically. The lateral movement of the lower trunk resulted from the lateral inclination of the trunk by gravity. The vertical movement of the trunk was converted into forward velocity, indicating an exchange between potential and kinetic energy. We also observed flexion and extension of the hip, although the excursion was within a small range. In addition, the lateral movement of the hindlimb in thedirection opposite to that of trunk movement helped to reduce the lateral sway of the body. These results suggest that during continuous-contact brachiation a gibbon uses hip flexion and extension motions to increase the kinetic energy in the swing. In addition, fine motions of the hip may restrict the lateral sway of the center of body mass. Am J Phys Anthropol 142:650–654, 2010. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.