• Cebus apella;
  • bipedalism;
  • kinematics


Capuchin monkeys are known to use bipedalism when transporting food items and tools. The bipedal gait of two capuchin monkeys in the laboratory was studied with three-dimensional kinematics. Capuchins progress bipedally with a bent-hip, bent-knee gait. The knee collapses into flexion during stance and the hip drops in height. The knee is also highly flexed during swing to allow the foot which is plantarflexed to clear the ground. The forefoot makes first contact at touchdown. Stride frequency is high, and stride length and limb excursion low. Hind limb retraction is limited, presumably to reduce the pitch moment of the forward-leaning trunk. Unlike human bipedalism, the bipedal gait of capuchins is not a vaulting gait, and energy recovery from pendulum-like exchanges is unlikely. It extends into speeds at which humans and other animals run, but without a human-like gait transition. In this respect it resembles avian bipedal gaits. It remains to be tested whether energy is recovered through cyclic elastic storage and release as in bipedal birds at higher speeds. Capuchin bipedalism has many features in common with the facultative bipedalism of other primates which is further evidence for restrictions on a fully upright striding gait in primates that transition to bipedalism. It differs from the facultative bipedalism of other primates in the lack of an extended double-support phase and short aerial phases at higher speeds that make it a run by kinematic definition. This demonstrates that facultative bipedalism of quadrupedal primates need not necessarily be a walking gait. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.