Body weight: its relation to tissue composition, segment distribution, and motor function. I. Interspecific comparisons

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1977 Sep;47(2):211-40. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.1330470204.


The composition of skin, muscle, and bone and their distribution throughout the body are compared for "advanced" or "specialized" species (Alouatta, Macaca, Canis, Felis, Lepus); smaller, more closely related species (Tupaia and the Lorisidae); and several species within the same ecosystem (Barro Colorado Island, Panama). Among the most significant variables, the skin of sloths, howlers and macaques constitutes more than 12% of body weight, whereas greyhound skin is 5% of weight; sloth and howler muscle are 25% of weight, macaque muscle about 40% of weight, greyhound and agouti muscle over 50% of weight. In tree shrews and galagos muscle is heavier (35%) than in pottos and slow lorises (below 28%), but bone and skin are lighter. All species differ in the segmental distribution of weight. Cats have light tails, light feet and heavy thighs, whereas howlers have heavy tails, heavy feet, and light thighs. The galagos have heavy hindlimbs and tails, the pottos and lorises have reduced tails and approximately equal fore- and hindlimbs. Convergences in segment pattern (sloths with pottos and lorises, marmosets with tree shrews, owl monkeys with galagos, cebus with macaques) as well as divergences are documented. All weight-of tissue and weight-of-segment variables are correlated directly with locomotor adaptation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Weight*
  • Bone and Bones / analysis
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Extremities / anatomy & histology
  • Haplorhini
  • Locomotion
  • Macaca
  • Muscles / analysis
  • Skin / analysis
  • Species Specificity
  • Strepsirhini / anatomy & histology
  • Tail / anatomy & histology