Squirrel monkey locomotion on an inclined treadmill: Implications for the evolution of gaits

Joel A. Vilensky, Ann M. Moore, Josue Njock Libii

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Scopus citations


Three adult squirrel monkeys were trained to run on a motor-driven treadmill that was inclined downwardly and upwardly at 8°, 16° and 28°, and horizontally (0°). Films were used to compare the gait and kinematics of the animals across the inclines. All three animals used both lateral and diagonal sequence gaits, although the former was preferred at all but the upward 16° and 28° inclines. Cycle duration and hind limb stance and swing durations tended to increase as downward inclination decreased. Trunk inclination, except at 28° downward, tended to parallel the changes in treadmill inclination. The most dramatic and consistent change for the hind limb joint displacement patterns was that maximum extension during stance increased as the treadmill inclination increased from 28° downward to 28° upward. In contrast to an earlier study by Prost & Sussman (1969), we could find no evidence that squirrel monkeys are best adapted to run on upward inclines of about 16°. The utilization of diagonal sequence gaits on the upward inclines supports previous suggestions that the preference for these gaits in primates is associated with an evolutionary increase in climbing behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-386
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - May 1994


  • primates, gait, locomotion, climbing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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