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Keywords:

  • bipedal standing;
  • foot preference;
  • gender difference;
  • limb preference;
  • postural origin theory

Abstract

Postural origin theory predicts that body postures are related to hand preference in nonhuman primates due to hemispheric specialization. Foot preference, especially in manipulating objects, is also a good predictor of hemispheric specialization in humans. We studied limb (hand and foot) preferences in 11 captive adult black-and-white snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus bieti) to see how limb preference is influenced by postures and foot manipulation. Hand preference was significantly different for this group between quadrupedal standing and clinging postures, and sitting and clinging postures, but not between bipedal standing and clinging postures. Individuals were significantly more likely to use the right hand in the clinging posture than in quadrupedal standing or sitting postures. In the sitting posture, individuals maintained their respective hand preference even when the food was on the other side of the body. There was a gender difference in the sitting posture, where females preferred their right hand but males preferred their left. Individuals who did not routinely use their feet to manipulate objects, compared to those who did, shifted to greater right hand use from the clinging posture to the bipedal posture. One male individual and his offspring were more likely to use their feet to manipulate objects than the rest of the monkeys. In the present study, we reveal the first evidence of a postural effect on hand preference in R. bieti as well as a foot preference in this species. Our results mostly agree with the postural origin theory and hemispheric specialization.