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The mantled howler (Alouatta palliata) is a species of New World monkey that lives in Central and South America. It takes its “mantled” name from the long guard hairs on its sides.
One of the largest Central American monkeys, the male can weigh up to 9.8 kg (22 lb). This is the only Central American monkey that eats large quantities of leaves. For this reason, the species boasts several adaptations to this diet. Firstly, since leaves are difficult to digest and provide less energy than most foods, the mantled howler spends the majority of each day resting and sleeping. Additionally, the male has an enlarged hyoid bone, or howler bone, near the vocal cords. He uses this to amplify his calls. Howling allows the monkeys to locate one another without expending energy or risking physical confrontation.
The mantled howler lives in groups of up to 40 members. However, groups are usually smaller. Most mantled howlers of both sexes leave the group they were born in upon reaching sexual maturity. This results in most adult group members being unrelated. The most dominant male, the alpha male, gets preference for food and resting places, and mates with most of the receptive females.