Human Evolution

, 4:145 | Cite as

Body shape and differences between species

  • H. Preuschoft


The variation of body shape among prosimians is reviewed. Special emphasis is placed on the selective advantages, that is the mechanical reasons, to which variants of the locomotor apparatus can be traced back.

There are differences found in the cheiridia, but at present they cannot be explained in terms of mechanics; there is nearly no knowledge about the mechanical meaning of their diversity. Myological characteristics of taxa can be explained mechanically, but this has not yet been done.

Well known are variations of body proportions. These discriminate higher taxa, and are largely coincident with the often-used locomotor categories. In spite of this, there are only few sound arguments about the real biomechanic value of characteristic proportions for a given locomotor mode. What is known on this field, is reviewed. Progress can be made only, if the mechanical conditions, set by postural behavior and locomotion, are understood completely.

The subtle distinctions between lower taxonomic units can normally be identified only on the basis of detailed and quantified analyses of movements on one hand, and of biometrics on the other. In the few cases in which such studies have been made, the differences of morphology fit to the mechanical requirements of locomotion which also differ only in quantitative details.

Key words

Biomechanics Functional interpretation of body shape Taxonomic value of limb proportions Locomotion Prosimians 


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Copyright information

© Editrice II Sedicesimo 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Preuschoft
    • 1
  1. 1.Ruhr-Universität Bochum Funktionelle MorphologieBochum 1

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