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Functional adaptations in the forelimb muscles of non-human great apes


Myatt, J P; Crompton, R H; Payne-Davis, R C; Vereecke, E E; Isler, K; Savage, R; D'Août, K; Günther, M M; Thorpe, S K S (2012). Functional adaptations in the forelimb muscles of non-human great apes. Journal of Anatomy, 220:13-28.

Abstract

The maximum capability of a muscle can be estimated from simple measurements of muscle architecture such
as muscle belly mass, fascicle length and physiological cross-sectional area. While the hindlimb anatomy of the
non-human apes has been studied in some detail, a comparative study of the forelimb architecture across a
number of species has never been undertaken. Here we present data from chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and
an orangutan to ascertain if, and where, there are functional differences relating to their different locomotor
repertoires and habitat usage. We employed a combination of analyses including allometric scaling and ANCOVAs
to explore the data, as the sample size was relatively small and heterogeneous (specimens of different sizes,
ages and sex). Overall, subject to possible unidentified, confounding factors such as age effects, it appears that
the non-human great apes in this sample (the largest assembled to date) do not vary greatly across different
muscle architecture parameters, even though they perform different locomotor behaviours at different frequencies.
Therefore, it currently appears that the time spent performing a particular behaviour does not necessarily
impose a dominating selective influence on the soft-tissue portion of the musculoskeletal system; rather,
the overall consistency of muscle architectural properties both between and within the Asian and African apes
strengthens the case for the hypothesis of a possible ancient shared evolutionary origin for orthogrady under
compressive and ⁄ or suspensory loading in the great apes.

The maximum capability of a muscle can be estimated from simple measurements of muscle architecture such
as muscle belly mass, fascicle length and physiological cross-sectional area. While the hindlimb anatomy of the
non-human apes has been studied in some detail, a comparative study of the forelimb architecture across a
number of species has never been undertaken. Here we present data from chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and
an orangutan to ascertain if, and where, there are functional differences relating to their different locomotor
repertoires and habitat usage. We employed a combination of analyses including allometric scaling and ANCOVAs
to explore the data, as the sample size was relatively small and heterogeneous (specimens of different sizes,
ages and sex). Overall, subject to possible unidentified, confounding factors such as age effects, it appears that
the non-human great apes in this sample (the largest assembled to date) do not vary greatly across different
muscle architecture parameters, even though they perform different locomotor behaviours at different frequencies.
Therefore, it currently appears that the time spent performing a particular behaviour does not necessarily
impose a dominating selective influence on the soft-tissue portion of the musculoskeletal system; rather,
the overall consistency of muscle architectural properties both between and within the Asian and African apes
strengthens the case for the hypothesis of a possible ancient shared evolutionary origin for orthogrady under
compressive and ⁄ or suspensory loading in the great apes.

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12 citations in Web of Science®
13 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Anthropology
Dewey Decimal Classification:300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:02 Apr 2012 11:41
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:35
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0021-8782 (P) 1469-7580 (E)
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7580.2011.01443.x
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-58657

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