The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Locomotor anatomy of patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas)


Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz

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Patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas), largest of the guenon group, are distributed across equatorial woodland savanna habitats of Africa. They have a large home range and long daily range, parallel to savanna baboons, and a locomotor system structured for long distance walking and high speed running. Previous studies note their digitigrade hand and foot postures, and distinctive vertebral column and thermoregulation.

This study presents new data on the relative mass and proportions of the musculo-skeleton based on whole body dissections of patas monkeys (n=2). Comparative data from vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops), macaques (Macaca) and baboons (Papio cynocephalus) reveal similarities in forelimbs (12.5%) and hind limbs (22.5%) relative to total body mass. Among these three genera, the relative mass of thigh and foot segments to total hind limb mass is similar: thigh 65-67%; foot 9.6-10.7%. However, relative mass of forelimb segments differ: the patas arm segment is 59%, and hand, 7%; in macaques the arm segment is 50-52% and hand, 10-11%. In proportions of bone and muscle groups, for example, the patas foot is 46% bone, compared to the baboon at 33%; the patas quadriceps femoris and calf muscles are relatively heavier, whereas thigh adductors, dorsiflexors and plantar-flexors are relatively lighter.

Limb, muscle, and bone proportions are part of the functional complex that support patas hand and foot postures and long limbs and stride length. Combined with previous research on Old World monkey anatomy and behavior, these data expand and deepen understanding of the patas locomotor adaptation.

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