Cutting corners: the dynamics of turning behaviors in two primate species

Department of Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University, NY 11794-8081, USA.
Journal of Experimental Biology (Impact Factor: 3). 04/2006; 209(Pt 5):927-37. DOI: 10.1242/jeb.02046
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In an attempt to characterize more fully the variation in substrate reaction forces in the locomotor repertoire of primates, we recorded the forces involved in directional changes for two species. These are the first records of turning forces for vertebrate quadrupeds, much less primates. Three ring-tailed lemurs and two patas monkeys performed turns of approximately 30 degrees as they crossed a force platform. The ring-tailed lemurs also turned on a horizontal branch-like support with a segment attached to the force transducer. Mediolateral forces of up to 40% body weight were recorded. These are considerably higher than during linear locomotion. Pivot limbs in ground turns and turns on the branch differed in the lemurs, suggesting that substrate influences turning strategies. Limbs encountered both medial and lateral reaction forces, and as a result, they may be exposed to variable bending regimes in the frontal plane. The stereotypy in bending regimes suggested by in vivo bone strain studies, therefore, may characterize linear locomotion only. The lemurs showed hindlimb dominance in turns, both in terms of frequency used as well as force magnitude (hindlimb steering). Hindlimb dominance in weight support characterizes both species (and primates in general), but it is more pronounced in the lemurs. In the patas monkeys, forces were more evenly distributed among the two pairs of limbs. The mediolateral turning forces therefore seem to track the amount of weight to be shifted sideways. Overall variance in mediolateral forces was greater in the arboreal and versatile lemurs than in the terrestrial and cursorial patas monkeys.

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