Structural adaptations for gliding in mammals with implications for locomotor behavior in paromomyids

Jacqueline A. Runestad, Christopher B. Ruff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The gliding abilities of paromomyid plesiadapiforms are evaluated through a functional analysis of long bone morphology in a comparative sample of modern gliders and related nongliders. Relationships between body mass, long bone lengths, and long bone midshaft cross‐sectional areas are explored. Theory suggests that gliders should have long humeri and femora to improve aspect ratio, and that larger gliders should have relatively longer limb bones than smaller gliders to minimize drag and patagial loading at greater body masses. Comparisons between extant taxa support these predictions: gliders have relatively longer humeri and femora than those of nongliders, and glider long bone lengths scale with positive allometry, while the scaling of nonglider long bones does not differ from isometry. Preliminary analysis of distal to proximal limb segment proportions further suggests that bone lengthening is, to some extent, related to patagial attachment site, although humeri and femora are relatively long in all of the gliders, regardless of attachment site. The proportions of paromomyids relative to those of extant mammals do not support a gliding interpretation for these fossils. © 1995 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-119
Number of pages19
JournalAmerican journal of physical anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 1995


  • Biomechanics
  • Gliding
  • Paromomyids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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