Fri, June 12, 2020

Locomotion

Distance:

Due to the abundance of food sources in undisturbed habitat, and gorillas’ willingness to eat many different types of plants, some gorillas don’t have to travel far distances to find their food. In fact, mountain gorillas travel on average less than one mile per day!

Arboreality:

Mountain gorillas are primarily terrestrial, meaning they travel on the ground. However, they will occasionally climb trees! When climbing trees or other objects, gorillas grasp with all four limbs. The feet of gorillas and many other (non human) primates are uniquely adapted for this, with a special big toe that functions similarly to a thumb. Their other toes are also longer and more dexterous than human toes. 

Quadrupedal:

Gorillas are quadrupeds, which means that they use both their hands and feet to walk. More specifically, they use a form of locomotion called knuckle-walking, meaning they walk on the top of their knuckles as opposed to putting all their weight on their palms.

Sometimes they walk bipedally too!

While gorillas almost exclusively walk quadrupedally, you may occasionally see them walk on two legs, or bipedally. Bipedal walking is seen most commonly in juveniles during play, carrying someone’s infant, or when they’re curious about something in the distance. Adults may run bipedally for a few steps during a display, but bipedalism is rarely seen otherwise. 

Infants:

Like humans, gorillas are not very independent when they’re born.  At first, they lay on their mom’s stomach and she supports them with one arm, walking tripedally.   As they get stronger and are able to grasp on, mom can go back to walking quadrupedally.  Eventually, Eventually, infant gorillas grow strong enough to climb onto their mother’s back, and may also go for short rides on their siblings if mom is willing to let them babysit. “Leg carrying” has also been observed in gorillas under human care, where a mother will encourage her infant to sit on her foot and hang onto her leg while moving. 

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