While the unknown inspiration for Dr. Seuss’ beloved hippie character has never been much of an issue for young readers, dismissed as just another creature of Seussian design, a group of anthropologists and scholars decided to take the question seriously.
According to a New York Times piece, after popping the Lorax into a highly sophisticated monkey face recognition software, the group believed that they had found the answer, publishing their findings in the science journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
The researchers determined that the Lorax closely resembled the patas monkey, and frankly, we’re surprised it took this long to figure that out.
The similarities don’t end with their looks, either.
Like the Lorax, who professed to “speak for the trees,” patas monkeys are well known for their raspy alarm call and the fact that they derive the majority of their nutrients from the whistling thorn acacia tree, whose twisting, gnarled shape strongly resembles that the “truffla trees” found in Seuss’ story.
They hypothesized that Dr. Seuss himself, Theodore Geisel, was inspired by the creature after traveling to Kenya in 1970, where it is said he wrote most of the book.
So, apparently, Geisel sketched up a version of the monkey in his style, threw in some leftist ideals and granola sensibilities and called it a day. If only it was always so easy to write beloved children's literature.
Photo Credit: Eric Kilby/Flickr