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Young - 2009 - Ontogeny of joint mechanics in squirrel monkeys


Young J. Ontogeny of joint mechanics in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis): functional implications for mammalian limb growth and locomotor development. J Exp Biol. 2009 May;212(Pt 10):1576-91. PUBMED

10 Word Summary

Posture changes during development of monkeys.


Juvenile animals must often compete against adults for common resources, keep pace during group travel and evade common predators, despite reduced body size and an immature musculoskeletal system. Previous morphometric studies of a diverse array of mammals, including jack rabbits, cats and capuchin monkeys, have identified growth-related changes in anatomy, such as negative allometry of limb muscle mechanical advantage, which should theoretically permit young mammals to overcome such ontogenetic limits on performance. However, it is important to evaluate the potential impact of such ;compensatory' growth trajectories within the context of developmental changes in locomotor behavior. I used standard kinematic and kinetic techniques to investigate the ontogenetic scaling of joint postures, substrate reaction forces, joint load arm lengths and external joint moments in an ontogenetic sample of squirrel monkeys (Saimiri boliviensis). Results indicated that young squirrel monkeys were frequently able to limit forelimb and hind limb joint loading via a combination of changes in limb posture and limb force distribution, potentially compensating for limited muscularity at younger ages. These results complement previous morphometric studies and suggest that immature mammals may utilize a combination of behavioral and anatomical mechanisms to mitigate ontogenetic limits on locomotor performance. However, ontogenetic changes in joint posture, not limb length per se, explained most of the variation in load arm lengths and joint loading in growing squirrel monkeys, indicating the importance of incorporating both anatomical and performance measures when studying the ontogeny of limb joint mechanics.


  • Ontogenetic - study of development
  • Allometric - relation between size and shape
  • Monkeys become bottom heavy (CoM in their butt) as adults.
  • Skeletal mechanical advantage adjusts to muscular strength in developing cats, rabbits and monkeys.
    • Specific to monkeys is a change in posture to accomplish a task as a juvenile VS as an adult.  This change in posture was posited to be due to the differences in strength between young and old.