A black howler (Alouatta caraya) photographed at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska
A black howler (Alouatta caraya) photographed at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Nebraska
Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark

Howler Monkeys

Common Name:
Howler Monkeys
Scientific Name:
Alouatta
Type:
Mammals
Diet:
Omnivore
Group Name:
Troop
Average Life Span In The Wild:
15 to 20 years
Size:
Head and body: 22 to 36 inches; tail: 23 to 36 inches
Weight:
15 to 22 pounds

Howlers are New World monkeys found in tropical Central and South America.

“Howling”

They are aptly named for their cacophonous cries. When a number of howlers let loose their lungs in concert, often at dawn or dusk, the din can be heard up to three miles away. Male monkeys have large throats and specialized, shell-like vocal chambers that help to turn up the volume on their distinctive call. The noise sends a clear message to other monkeys: This territory is already occupied by a troop.

New World Features

These vocal primates are the biggest of all the New World monkeys. Unlike Old World monkeys, howlers and other New World species have wide, side-opening nostrils and no pads on their rumps. Howlers also boast a prehensile tail. They can use this tail as an extra arm to grip or even hang from branches—no Old World monkeys have such a tail. A gripping tail is particularly helpful to howler monkeys because they rarely descend to the ground. They prefer to stay aloft, munching on the leaves that make up most of their diet.

Howler monkeys have beards and long, thick hair which may be black, brown, or red. The red howler species is the most common, but it is often targeted by hunters eager for bushmeat. Other species of howler monkey may be critically endangered over sections of their ranges.

This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
This photo was submitted to Your Shot, our photo community on Instagram. Follow us on Instagram at @natgeoyourshot or visit us at natgeo.com/yourshot for the latest submissions and news about the community.
Photograph by Luis Sandoval, National Geographic Your Shot

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