International Journal of Primatology

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 19–33

Preliminary electromyographical analysis of brachiation in gibbon and spider monkey

  • William L. Jungers
  • Jack T. Stern

DOI: 10.1007/BF02692297

Cite this article as:
Jungers, W.L. & Stern, J.T. Int J Primatol (1981) 2: 19. doi:10.1007/BF02692297


In order to refine the concept of brachiation as a locomotor mode and to examine the complex relationship between locomotor behavior and muscle morphology, we have undertaken a telemetered electromyographic (EMG) analysis of muscle recruitment in brachiating gibbons (Hylobates lar) and spider monkeys (Ateles belzebuth andAteles fusciceps) Electrical activity patterns were determined for both support and swing phases in the following muscles: cranial pectoralis major, caudal pectoralis major, middle deltoideus, short head of biceps brachii, flexor digitorum superficialis, latissimus dorsi, and dorsoepitrochlearis. Our experimental findings reinforce earlier behavioral observations that brachiation is not a discrete, stereotyped locomotor activity. EMG patterns differed most between gibbon and spider monkey in those muscles that exhibit markedly disparate morphologies in the two genera-pectoralis major (both portions) and the short head of biceps brachii. Additional recruitment differences appear related to consistent species-specific differences in the timing and mechanics of both support and swing phases, and probably to the role of the prehensile tail as a fail-safe mechanism in the spider monkey.


brachiationbiomechanicselectromyographygibbonspider monkey

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • William L. Jungers
    • 1
  • Jack T. Stern
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomical SciencesHealth Sciences Center, State University of New York at Stony BrookLong Island