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Brachiating Gibbon

Brachiation (from "brachium", Latin for "arm") is a form of arboreal locomotion in which primates swing from tree limb to tree limb using only their arms.

Contents

Brachiators

The only true brachiators are the lesser apes (gibbons and siamangs). A gibbon can brachiate at speeds as high as 35 mph (55km/h) and can travel as far as 20 feet (6 m) with each swing. Spider monkeys and orangutans are considered semibrachiators.

Brachiation-aiding traits

Some of the traits that allow gibbons, siamangs, and other primates to brachiate include the following: short fingernails instead of claws, inward-closing, hook-like fingers, opposable thumbs, long forelimbs, and freely rotating shoulder joints.

Brachiation and humans

Modern humans retain many physical characteristics that suggest a protobrachiator ancestor, including flexible shoulder joints and fingers well-suited for grasping. In apes, these characteristics were adaptations for brachiation. Although humans do not normally brachiate, our anatomy suggests that brachiation may be a preadaptation to bipedalism, and healthy modern humans are still capable of brachiating. Some children’s parks include monkey bars which children play on by brachiating.

See also

References

  1. Rice, Patricia C.; Norah Moloney (2005). Biological Anthropology and Prehistory: Exploring our Human Ancestry. Pearson Education, Inc., pp. 178-179, 192. ISBN 0205381960
  2. Brittanica.com
  3. Dictionary.com
  4. MSN Encarta (Archived 2009-10-31)
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