Carpal kinematics in quadrupedal monkeys: towards a better understanding of wrist morphology and function


Guillaume Daver, Département de Préhistoire, UMR 7194 Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France. E:


The purpose of this study is to provide new data on carpal kinematics in primates in order to deepen our understanding of the relationships between wrist morphology and function. To that end, we provide preliminary data on carpal kinematics in seven species of quadrupedal monkeys that have not been previously investigated in this regard (cercopithecoids, = 4; ceboids, = 3). We radiographed wrists from cadavers at their maximum radial and ulnar deviations, as well as at maximum flexion and extension. We took angular measurements to quantify the contribution of the mobility of the two main wrist joints (antebrachiocarpal and midcarpal) with respect to total wrist mobility. We also recorded qualitative observations. Our quantitative results show few clear differences among quadrupedal monkeys for radioulnar deviation and flexion–extension: all the primates studied exhibit a greater midcarpal mobility (approximately 54–83% of the total range of motion) than antebrachiocarpal mobility; however, we identified two patterns of carpal kinematics that show the functional impact of previously recognised morphological variations in quadrupedal monkeys. Firstly, qualitative results show that the partition that divides the proximal joint of the wrist in ceboids results in less mobility and more stability of the ulnar part of the wrist than is seen in cercopithecoids. Secondly, we show that the olive baboon specimen (Papio anubis) is characterised by limited antebrachiocarpal mobility for extension; this effect is likely the result of a radial process that projects on the scaphoid notch, as well as an intraarticular meniscus. Because of these close relationships between carpal kinematics and morphology in quadrupedal monkeys, we hypothesise that, to some extent, these functional tendencies are related to their locomotor hand postures.