Spatio-temporal gait characteristics (step and stride length, stride frequency, duty factor) were determined for the hind-limb cycles of nine bonobos (Pan paniscus) walking quadrupedally and bipedally at a range of speeds. The data were recalculated to dimensionless quantities according to the principle of dynamic similarity. Lower leg length was used as the reference length. Interindividual variability in speed modulation strategy of bonobos appears to be low. Compared to quadrupedal walking, bipedal bonobos use smaller steps to attain a given speed (differences increase with speed), resulting in shorter strides at a higher frequency. In the context of the ("hybrid") dynamic pattern approach to locomotion (Latach, 1998) we argue that, despite these absolute differences, intended walking speed is the basic control variable which elicits both quadrupedal and bipedal walking kinematics in a similar way. Differences in the initial status of the dynamic system may be responsible for the differences in step length between both gaits. Comparison with data deduced from the literature shows that the effects of walking speed on stride length and frequency are similar in bonobos, common chimpanzees, and humans. This suggests that (at least) within extant homininae, spatio-temporal gait characteristics are highly comparable, and this in spite of obvious differences in mass distribution and bipedal posture.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.