Tail-Assisted Hind Limb Suspension as a Transitional Behavior in the Evolution of the Platyrrhine Prehensile Tail

  • D. Jeffrey Meldrum


The atelines (Ateles, Lagothrix, Brachyteles, and Alouatta) are distinguished among the New World primates by the presence of a prehensile tail, equipped with a naked volar pad covered with dermatoglyphic friction skin (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1829). This adaptation plays a significant role in the definition of the feeding and locomotor niche of the atelines (Rosenberger and Strier, 1989). Atelines exhibit modifications of the sacral and caudal vertebrae (Ankel, 1972; German, 1982), caudal musculature (Lemelin, 1995) and cerebral cortical representation of the tail (Falk, 1980). The capuchin monkey (Cebus) also displays prehensile abilities in its relatively shorter tail, but lacks the volar pad and other distinctive caudal morphologies present in the atelines, suggesting prehensile tails evolved in parallel in Cebus and the atelines (Rosenberger, 1983; Lemelin, 1995).


World Monkey Positional Behavior Locomotor Behavior Spider Monkey Support Body Weight 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Jeffrey Meldrum
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Biological Sciences and AnthropologyIdaho State UniversityPocatelloUSA

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