Macaques have been used as an important paradigm for understanding the neural control mechanisms of human precision grip capabilities. Therefore, we dissected the forearms and hands of two male Japanese macaques to systematically record the muscle mass, fascicle length and physiological cross-sectional area (PCSA). Comparisons of the mass fractions and PCSA fractions of the hand musculature among the Japanese macaque, chimpanzee, and human demonstrated that the sizes of the thenar and hypothenar eminence muscle groups are more balanced in the macaque and chimpanzee, but those of the thenar eminence group are much larger in the human, indicating that the capacity to generate force at the tip of the thumb is more restricted in macaques, despite their high manual dexterity. In the macaque, however, the extrinsic flexor muscles are much larger, possibly to facilitate weight bearing by the forelimbs in pronograde quadrupedal locomotion and forceful grasping of arboreal supports in gap-crossing movements such as leaping. Taking such anatomical differences imposed on the hand musculoskeletal system into consideration seems to be an important method of clarifying the mechanisms of precision grip in macaques.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology