Reaching, grasping and manipulation of food objects by two tree kangaroo species, Dendrolagus lumholtzi and Dendrolagus matschiei

This study examined manual dexterity and skilled limb movements in two species of tree kangaroos (Dendrolagus lumholtzi and D. matschiei) in order to evaluate the claim that claws are detrimental to object handling and the view that all marsupials conform to a ‘typical’ set of movements. The tree kangaroos demonstrated two main differences from previously studied species: (1) a high degree of freedom of movement of the upper forelimb; and (2) in one species (D. matschiei), some independent digital movement. The two species differed from one another in the mode of picking up food items and the type of grasp used. These differences appear to be linked to differences in feeding and foraging strategy between the two species, as well as to anatomical differences. This study indicates that marsupials do not have a common set of skilled forelimb movements and that claws do not impede prehension.

This study examined manual dexterity and skilled limb movements in two species of tree kangaroos (Dendrolagus lumholtzi and D. matschiei) in order to evaluate the claim that claws are detrimental to object handling and the view that all marsupials conform to a ‘typical’ set of movements. The tree kangaroos demonstrated two main differences from previously studied species: (1) a high degree of freedom of movement of the upper forelimb; and (2) in one species (D. matschiei), some independent digital movement. The two species differed from one another in the mode of picking up food items and the type of grasp used. These differences appear to be linked to differences in feeding and foraging strategy between the two species, as well as to anatomical differences. This study indicates that marsupials do not have a common set of skilled forelimb movements and that claws do not impede prehension.

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