The Lorax

Scientists Discover the Animal that Inspired Dr. Seuss’s ‘The Lorax’

Dr. Seuss’ colorful imagination and memorable stories have entertained readers for generations. The author is widely known for his ability to create a variety of quirky characters and therefore when it came came to the iconic orange Lorax, many readers may have assumed that the inspiration came from the author’s own head. But, researchers say differently.


Researchers believe they have found the inspiration behind the Lorax: the Patas monkey.



Image Via Alchetron


In a report published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, researchers explain how they pieced together the fascinating backstory behind Dr. Seuss’ recognizable character.


While doing research in Kenya anthropologist Nathaniel Dominy came across the Patas monkeys and was struck by their similarity to Seuss’ the Lorax. During a formal dinner, Dominy informed his colleague Donald Pease about this resemblance. Pease, the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor at Dartmouth, revealed that Dr. Seuss lived in Kenya the 1970’s, during which he wrote 90% of The Lorax. 



Image Via Kopihijau


Throughout their research, the team found out that a physical resemblance was not all that the Lorax and the Patas monkey shared. Like the Lorax, Patas monkeys have a strong connection to trees and depend on the whistling thorn acacia tree for food. After similar traits seemed to line up, the duo were able to get a more accurate assessment with the help of facial recognition used by anthropologist James Higham. Unsurprisingly, the results confirmed their suspicions.


“These findings support our hypothesis that Geisel drew inspiration from a cercopithecine monkey and its ecology,” their study states. “When put together with the fact that the book was written while on safari in Kenya, the coincidence seems striking.”


While their findings help to put an end to the mystery behind Dr. Seuss’ beloved character, it offers something greater for the researchers.


“It would be great if this work raises visibility for this animal and the ecosystem,” says Dominy. “If people are more conscious about it, that could encourage more conservation.”



Featured Image Via Missaukke Conservation District