Postural Strategies Employed by Orangutans (Pongo abelii) During Feeding in the Terminal Branch Niche

JP Myatt, Susannah Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Citations (Scopus)


Obtaining food in an arboreal habitat is complex due to the irregular and flexible nature of the supports available. As the largest predominantly arboreal primate, orangutans are expected to have developed particular postural strategies to enable them to feed successfully. In particular, they need to be able to cope within the terminal branch niche (TBN) as this is where the smallest, most compliant supports are, and also where the majority of the fruit and leaves are situated. We recorded feeding posture, along with a number of ecological and behavioral variables from different age-sex classes to enable analysis of the interactions between these and the compliance of the supports (as estimated from stiffness score). Suspensory postures with a pronograde orientation were used on the most compliant supports for all age-sex classes and appeared to play a particular role in facilitating safe use of the TBN by distributing body weight and using limbs for balance across multiple supports. This contradicts the idea that orthograde suspension evolved in response to the demands of feeding in the TBN. Adult males appear to use the same postures and feeding zones as the other age-sex classes, but appear to use stiffer supports where possible due to their larger body mass. Feeding method differed between the age-sex classes in relation to support stiffness, with larger adult males taking fewer risks due to their larger size, compared to infants and juveniles. Am J Phys Anthropol 146:73-82, 2011. (C)C 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-82
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2011


  • positional behavior
  • foraging
  • compliance
  • arboreal


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