An investigation of ecological correlates with hand and foot morphology in callitrichid primates



Studies of primate taxonomy and phylogeny often depend on comparisons of limb dimensions, yet there is little information on how morphology correlates and contributes to foraging strategies and ecology. Callitrichid primates are ideal for comparative studies as they exhibit a range of body size, limb proportions and diet. Many callitrichid species exhibit a high degree of exudativory, and to efficiently exploit these resources, they are assumed to have evolved morphologies that reflect a level of dependence on these resources. We tested assumptions by considering measurements of limb proportion and frictional features of the volar surfaces in preserved specimens of 25 species with relation to published life history and ecological data. The degree of exudativory and utilization of vertical substrates during foraging were found to correlate both with size and with size-corrected foot and hand dimensions. Smaller species, which engage in greater degrees of exudativory, had proportionally longer hands and feet and more curved claw-like tegulae (nails) on their digits to facilitate climbing on vertical substrates. The density of patterned ridges (dermatoglyphs) on the volar surfaces of the hands and feet is higher in more exudativorous genera, suggesting a role in climbing on vertical tree trunks during foraging. Dermatoglyph comparisons suggest that ridges on the soles and palms may facilitate food procurement by enhancing frictional grip during exudate feeding. Volar pad features corroborate taxonomic relationships described from dental morphology. Am J Phys Anthropol 152:447–458, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.