Sunday, January 22, 2012

Howler Monkeys

I was browsing Mr. Gillenwater’s new books on South American animals this weekend and was completely captivated by the howler monkeys. I’ve always had a weakness for these adorable creatures, so I knew I was in for a treat. I had also found another MUSE!

Did you know that howler monkeys are one of the loudest animals on Earth? In fact, the only animal that is louder is the blue whale.  

Due to a large throat chamber and a special bone that acts as an amplifier, these monkeys can be heard up to three miles away. But why would an animal want to be so LOUD?

Howler monkeys are very territorial, and they travel in groups called troops. The males howl in the morning and in the evening to let other troops know where they are. In other words, these howls are essentially saying, “Stay away!”

And guess what they eat? Leaves, fruits, shoots, flowers, and don’t forget about the occasional bug. YUM! (Not chocolate covered, sadly)

Howler monkeys also sleep a lot – up to fifteen hours a day. Humans are lucky to catch eight hours of zzz’s.

One of the most interesting features of the howler monkey is its prehensile tail. Howlers use their tails like a hand to grip and hang from branches. They also use it to anchor themselves to a limb while sleeping.

Howler monkeys weigh up to twenty-five pounds and grow up to thirty-six inches long (head and body).  They have black, brown, or red fur. Howlers live up to twenty years in the wild.

With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these what if questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF your main character was a howler monkey with a sore throat?

WHAT IF your main character lived in Brazil and became friends with a troop of howler monkeys?

WHAT IF your main character was a howler monkey made from metal?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

So, grab a cup of hot cocoa, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

The word of the day is “prehensile”. Here is the definition: adapted for seizing, Grasping, or taking hold of something.