Postcranial adaptations for climbing in Loridae (Primates)


  • Jacqueline A. Runestad

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, 372 Waggoner Hall, Western Illionis University, 1 University Circle, Macomb, Illiois 61455-1396, U.S.A.
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The Loridae are an arboreal family of small primates that are specialized for slow and quiet climbing. This paper examines the relationship between lorid locomotory behaviour and postcranial skeletal morphology. Lorid humeral and femoral diaphyseal geometric cross-sectional properties, articular surface areas, and lengths are compared to those properties in other small primates with less specialized locomotory behaviour. The comparative sample includes both closely related prosimians and more distantly related platyrrhines.

Results indicate that lorids have greater humeral and femoral diaphyseal rigidity than other quadrupedal primates of similar body size, suggesting that lorid limbs are subjected to greater forces. Lorids also have relatively larger humeral and femoral articulations, corresponding to field and laboratory observations which indicate that lorid joints are highly mobilc. In addition, lorids have long humeri relative to femoral length, and compared to humeral length in less specialized prosimians of similar body mass. Long humeral length relative to femoral length is interpreted as a climbing adaptation because similar limb proportions are also seen in many non-primate climbers. Altogether, humeral and femoral diaphyseal cross-sectional properties, articular surface areas, and lengths comprise a suite of characters which have potential for identifying climbing specialists in the fossil record.