Is primate-like quadrupedalism necessary for fine-branch locomotion? A test using sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps)

Title

Is primate-like quadrupedalism necessary for fine-branch locomotion? A test using sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps)

Creator

Shapiro L J; Young J W

Publisher

Journal of Human Evolution

Date

2010
2010-04

Description

Locomotor features shared by arboreal marsupials and primates are frequently cited as a functional complex that evolved in the context of a "fine branch niche." Adaptation to a fine branch niche cannot be understood without considering that small and large arboreal mammals may differ in their biomechanical response to a given branch size. We tested the effects of substrate diameter and orientation on quadrupedal kinematics in a small arboreal marsupial (the sugar glider, Petaurus breviceps). P. breviceps individuals were filmed moving across a flat horizontal surface and on horizontal, inclining and declining poles of diameter 2.5, 1.0, and 0.5 cm. Gait frequencies, limb phases, speeds and duty factors were compared across substrate conditions. P breviceps had a clear preference for lateral sequence/diagonal couplets gaits, regardless of substrate type, diameter or orientation. Limb phase was significantly influenced by substrate type (higher limb phases on poles vs. the flat surface) and by orientation (higher limb phases on inclined vs. horizontal poles), but was not influenced by pole diameter. Speed was lowest on declines, and duty factors (at a given speed) were highest on the flat board, smallest pole, and on declines. P. breviceps exhibited some parallels, but also some departures from the characteristic patterns of other arboreal marsupials and primates. Notably, limb phase values, on average, remained lower in P. breviceps than those recorded for primates or other arboreal marsupials. We suggest that arboreal mammals of different body sizes may use dissimilar, but apparently equally successful strategies for navigating a "fine branch niche." (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Subject

Anthropology; arboreal locomotion; Arboreality; banksia-spinulosa; bonobos pan-paniscus; cheirogaleus-medius; compliant; diagonal-sequence walking; Evolutionary Biology; Gait; Kinematics; Marsupials; monkeys saimiri-boliviensis; opossum monodelphis-domestica; papio-cynocephalus; primates; Quadrupedalism; symmetrical gaits; walking

Format

Journal Article

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Rights

Article information provided for research and reference use only. All rights are retained by the journal listed under publisher and/or the creator(s).

Pages

309-319

Issue

4

Volume

58

Citation

Shapiro L J; Young J W, “Is primate-like quadrupedalism necessary for fine-branch locomotion? A test using sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps),” NEOMED Bibliography Database, accessed March 9, 2021, https://neomed.omeka.net/items/show/7150.

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