Patterns of quadrupedal locomotion in a vertical clinging and leaping primate (Propithecus coquereli) with implications for understanding the functional demands of primate quadrupedal locomotion.

Journal Article (Journal Article)


Many primates exhibit a suite of characteristics that distinguish their quadrupedal gaits from non-primate mammals including the use of a diagonal sequence gait, a relatively protracted humerus at touchdown, and relatively high peak vertical forces on the hindlimbs compared to the forelimbs. These characteristics are thought to have evolved together in early, small-bodied primates possibly in response to the mechanical demands of navigating and foraging in a complex arboreal environment. It remains unclear, however, whether primates that employ quadrupedalism only rarely demonstrate the common primate pattern of quadrupedalism or instead use the common non-primate pattern or an entirely different mechanical pattern from either group.

Materials and methods

This study compared the kinematics and kinetics of two habitually quadrupedal primates (Lemur catta and Varecia variegata) to those of a dedicated vertical clinger and leaper (Propithecus coquereli) during bouts of quadrupedal walking.


All three species employed diagonal sequence gaits almost exclusively, displayed similar degrees of humeral protraction, and exhibited lower vertical peak forces in the forelimbs compared to the hindlimb.


From the data in this study, it is possible to reject the idea that P. coquereli uses a non-primate pattern of quadrupedal walking mechanics. Nor do they use an entirely different mechanical pattern from either most primates or most non-primates during quadrupedal locomotion. These findings provide support for the idea that this suite of characteristics is adaptive for the challenges of arboreal locomotion in primates and that these features of primate locomotion may be basal to the order or evolved independently in multiple lineages including indriids. Am J Phys Anthropol 160:644-652, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Granatosky, MC; Tripp, CH; Fabre, A-C; Schmitt, D

Published Date

  • August 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 160 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 644 - 652

PubMed ID

  • 27062049

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1096-8644

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0002-9483

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/ajpa.22991


  • eng