Takeoff and landing forces of leaping strepsirhine primates

J Hum Evol. 1999 Aug;37(2):279-92. doi: 10.1006/jhev.1999.0311.


Knowledge of the forces animals generate and are exposed to during locomotion is an important prerequisite for understanding the musculoskeletal correlates of locomotor modes. We recorded takeoff and landing forces for 14 animals representing seven species of strepsirhine primates with a compliant force pole. Our sample included both specialized vertical clingers and leapers and more generalized species. Takeoff forces are higher than landing forces. Peak forces during acceleration for takeoff ranged from 6 to 12 times body weight, and the peak impact forces at landing are between 5 and 9 times body weight. There is a size-related trend in peak force magnitudes. Both takeoff and landing forces decrease with increasing body size in our sample of animals from 1 kg to over 5 kg. Peak forces increase with distance leapt. The distance effect is less clear, probably due to the narrow range of distances represented in our sample. A comparison of subadult and adult animals of two species of sifakas reveals a tendency for the young animals to exert relatively higher peak forces in comparison to their adult conspecifics. Finally, Lemur catta and Eulemur rubriventer, the "generalists" in our sample, tend to generate higher forces for equal tasks than the specialized vertical clingers and leapers (i.e., the indriids and Hapalemur).A broad-scale comparison of peak leaping forces and peak forces for quadrupedal and bipedal walking and running shows that leaping at small body size is associated with exceptionally high forces. Whereas relative forces (i.e., forces divided by body weight) decrease with increasing body mass for leaping, forces for walking and running do not change much with size. Leaping forces in our sample scale to (mass)(-1/3), which is consistent with expectations derived from geometric similarity models. Forces associated with other locomotor activities do not appear to follow this pattern. The very high forces found in strepsirhine leapers do not seem to be matched by bone robusticity beyond that documented for quadrupedal species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Lemuridae / physiology
  • Locomotion*
  • Male
  • Regression Analysis
  • Species Specificity
  • Strepsirhini / physiology*