Distal forelimb kinematics in erythrocebus patas and papio anubis during walking and galloping

Biren A. Patel, John D. Polk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When using symmetrical gaits, terrestrial digitigrade monkeys adopt less digitigrade, i. e., more palmigrade-like, hand postures as they move with faster speeds. Accordingly, it appears that, in contrast to other mammals, digitigrady is unrelated to cursoriality in primates. However, researchers have not documented the effects of speed on distal forelimb kinematics in faster asymmetrical gaits, i. e., galloping, when ground reaction forces are typically increased owing to the decreased number of contact points during a stride, combined with higher speed. Thus, it remains possible that primates use digitigrade hand postures during these higher-speed asymmetrical gaits. We investigated 3D angles in the wrist joint and metacarpophalangeal joint of 2 habitually digitigrade terrestrial monkeys, Erythrocebus patas and Papio anubis, across a large range of walking and galloping speeds on a motorized treadmill. Nonparametric analyses reveal that angles, and therefore hand postures, are not different at the subject's walk-gallop transition. Regression analyses show that when walking, digitigrade postures are adopted at slow speeds and more palmigrade-like postures are adopted at fast speeds. Contrary to expectations, there is little change in hand postures across galloping speeds; both subjects maintained palmigrade-like hand postures with substantial joint yield and reextension during support. These results indicate that the hands are always less digitigrade at faster speeds because the joints of the distal forelimb cannot resist the higher ground reaction forces that accompany these higher speed gaits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-207
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Primatology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2010


  • Cercopithecoid
  • Digitigrade
  • Hand
  • Locomotion
  • Palmigrade
  • Terrestrial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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