Vertical Clinging and Leaping Ahead: How Bamboo Has Shaped the Anatomy and Physiology of Hapalemur

Holden W. Hemingway, Anne M. Burrows, Kailey M. Omstead, Sarah Zohdy, Juan Francisco Pastor, Magdalena N. Muchlinski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Hapalemur sps. and Prolemur simus (bamboo lemurs, collectively) stand out from the relatively homogeneous lemurids because they are bamboo feeders and vertical clingers and leapers. This unique diet presents equally unique challenges, like its verticality, toughness, and toxicity. The bamboo lemurs share the generalized anatomy of the other lemurids, but also display some well-documented skeletal adaptations, perhaps to overcome the problems presented by their specialization. Soft-tissue adaptations, however, remain largely unexplored. Explored here are possible soft-tissue adaptations in Hapalemur griseus. We compare H. griseus with other lemurids, Propithecus, Galago, Tarsier, and a tree shrew. Based on the available anatomical and physiological data, we hypothesize that Hapalemur and Prolemur species will have differences in hindlimb morphology when compared with other lemurids. We predict that H. griseus will have more hindlimb muscle mass and will amplify muscle mass differences with increased type II muscle fibers. Relative hindlimb muscle mass in H. griseus is less than other prosimians sampled, yet relative sural muscle mass is significantly heavier (P < 0.01) in H. griseus. Results show that the soleus muscle of H. griseus has a higher amount of type II (fast) fibers in plantarflexors. These findings indicate although H. griseus shares some generalized lemurid morphology, its diet of bamboo may have pushed this generalized lemurid to an anatomical extreme. We suspect additional bamboo-specific adaptations in their anatomy and physiology will be uncovered with further examination into the anatomy of the bamboo lemurs. Anat Rec, 2019.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-307
Number of pages13
JournalAnatomical Record
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • bamboo lemur
  • dietary adaptations
  • gustation
  • muscle fiber composition
  • muscle mass
  • positional behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Biotechnology
  • Histology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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