Sampling frequencies and measurement error for linear and temporal gait parameters in primate locomotion

John D. Polk*, Sarah P. Psutka, Brigitte Demes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Quantitative analyses of animal motion are increasingly easy to conduct using simple video equipment and relatively inexpensive software packages. With careful use, such analytical tools have the potential to quantify differences in movement between individuals or species and to allow insights into the behavioral consequences of morphological differences between taxa. However, as with any other type of measurement, there are errors associated with kinematic measurements. Because normative kinematic data on human and nonhuman primate locomotion are used to model aspects of gait of fossil hominins, errors in the extant data influence the accuracy of fossil gait reconstructions. The principal goal of this paper is to illustrate the effect of camera speeds (frame rates) on kinematic measurement errors, and to demonstrate how these errors vary with subject size, movement velocity, and sample size. Kinematic data for human walking and running (240 Hz), as well as data for primate quadrupedal walking and running (180 Hz) were used as inputs for a simulation of the measurement errors associated with various linear and temporal kinematic variables. Measurement errors were shown to increase as camera speed, subject body size, and interval duration all decrease, and as movement velocity increases. These results have implications for the methods used to calculate subject velocity and suggest that using a moving marker to measure the linear displacements of the body is preferable to the use of a stationary marker. Finally, while slower camera speeds will always result in higher measurement errors than do faster camera speeds, this effect can be moderated to some extent by collecting sufficiently large samples of data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)665-679
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Human Evolution
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2005


  • Body size
  • Error analysis
  • Human
  • Locomotion
  • Motion analysis
  • Primate
  • Sampling frequency
  • Speed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology


Dive into the research topics of 'Sampling frequencies and measurement error for linear and temporal gait parameters in primate locomotion'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this