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Hand pressures during arboreal locomotion in captive bonobos (Pan paniscus)

Samuel, Diana, Nauwelaerts, Sandra, Stevens, Jeroen M.G., Kivell, Tracy L. (2018) Hand pressures during arboreal locomotion in captive bonobos (Pan paniscus). Journal of Experimental Biology, 221 (8). Article Number 170910. ISSN 0022-0949. (doi:10.1242/jeb.170910) (KAR id:66670)


Evolution of the human hand has undergone a transition from use during locomotion to use primarily for manipulation. Previous comparative morphological and biomechanical studies have focused on potential changes in manipulative abilities during human hand evolution, but few have focused on functional signals for arboreal locomotion. Here, we provide this comparative context though the first analysis of hand loading in captive bonobos during arboreal locomotion. We quantify pressure experienced by the fingers, palm and thumb in bonobos during vertical locomotion, suspension and arboreal knuckle-walking. Results show that pressure experienced by the fingers is significantly higher during knuckle-walking compared with similar pressures experienced by the fingers and palm during suspensory and vertical locomotion. Peak pressure is most often experienced at or around the third digit in all locomotor modes. Pressure quantified for the thumb is either very low or absent, despite the thumb making contact with the substrate during all suspensory and vertical locomotor trials. Unlike chimpanzees, the bonobos do not show a rolling pattern of digit contact with the substrate during arboreal knuckle-walking but, instead, digits 3 and 4 typically touch down first and digit 5 almost always made contact with the substrate. These results have implications for interpreting extant and fossilised hand morphology; we expect bonobo (and chimpanzee) bony morphology to primarily reflect the biomechanical loading of knuckle-walking, while functional signals for arboreal locomotion in fossil hominins are most likely to appear in the fingers, particularly digit 3, and least likely to appear in the morphology of the thumb.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1242/jeb.170910
Uncontrolled keywords: force, biomechanics, African apes, vertical climbing, suspension, knucklewalking
Subjects: Q Science > QL Zoology
Q Science > QM Human anatomy
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
Depositing User: Tracy Kivell
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2018 13:35 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2022 01:07 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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