Heterochronic Approaches to the Study of Locomotion

  • Laurie R. Godfrey
  • Stephen J. King
  • Michael R. Sutherland


Despite the advances that have been made in documenting ontogenetic changes in primate skeletal morphology, relatively little is known about the ontogeny of locomotor behavior. Even less is known about differences among behavioral developmental trajectories of closely related species. The study of evolutionary changes in developmental trajectories is the purview of heterochrony. Heterochrony is generally defined as the study of perturbations and displacements in existing ontogenetic pathways caused by changes in developmental timing and rates. As such, it has been conceived by some researchers (e.g., Gould, 1977; Raff et al., 1990; Zelditch and Fink, 1996; Rice, 1997) as narrowly encompassing only a subset of possible evolutionary shifts in ontogeny, and by others (e.g., McKinney and McNamara, 1991) as all-inclusive. The goal of heterochrony is to understand the proximate causes of differences among adult phenotypes of closely related species. This entails understanding how, through development, morphology and behavior emerge, and how developmental trajectories themselves evolve. Applied to the study of locomotion, it means understanding the evolutionary basis for variation, if any, in the ontogeny of positional behavior, and its relation to the ontogeny of form.


Shape Space Positive Allometry Negative Allometry Simple Power Function Allometric Trajectory 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurie R. Godfrey
    • 1
  • Stephen J. King
    • 1
  • Michael R. Sutherland
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUSA
  2. 2.Statistical Consulting CenterUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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