Dynamic plantar pressure distribution during terrestrial locomotion of bonobos (Pan paniscus)

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2003 Apr;120(4):373-83. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.10163.


We collected high-resolution plantar pressure distributions of seven bonobos during terrestrial bipedal and quadrupedal locomotion (N = 146). Functional foot length, degree of hallux abduction, and total contact time were determined, and plots, showing pressure as a function of time for six different foot regions, were generated. We also studied five adult humans for comparison (N = 13). Both locomotion types of the bonobo show a large variation in plantar pressure distributions, which could be due to the interference of instantaneous behavior with locomotion and differences in walking speed and body dimensions. The heel and the lateral midfoot typically touch down simultaneously at initial ground contact in bipedal and quadrupedal walking of bonobos, in contrast with the typical heel-strike of human bipedalism. The center of pressure follows a curved course during quadrupedalism, as a consequence of the medial weight transfer during mid-stance. Bipedal locomotion of bonobos is characterized by a more plantar positioning of the feet and by a shorter contact time than during quadrupedal walking, according to a smaller stride and step length at a higher frequency. We observed a varus position of the foot with an abducted hallux, which likely possesses an important sustaining and stabilizing function during terrestrial locomotion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Locomotion / physiology*
  • Pan paniscus / physiology*
  • Pressure
  • Time and Motion Studies