In today’s digital age, children are growing up with different sources of entertainment compared to their parents and grandparents. Many modern kids enjoy playing video games and using smartphone applications. If you were to ask your parents or grandparents what they liked to do for fun, they might mention reading comic books.
Aside from immersing themselves in a world of superheroes, parents or grandparents probably remember the enjoyment they had flipping through the pages of advertisements at the back of their favorite comics. These ads showcased a fascinating array of products that could be purchased through mail order.
One of these products became a marketing sensation that continues to generate millions of dollars today. The intriguing advertisement featured a family of creatures that resembled aliens. It promised that by using a bowl of water and a couple of packets of magical powder, you would witness sea creatures coming to life. What are we referring to? Sea monkeys, of course!
Now, before you get too excited, we must warn you: these creatures did not reside in the sea, and they were certainly not monkeys. However, wouldn’t it be fascinating to have real sea monkeys? Can you imagine monkeys riding dolphins like they were horses? Anyway, we are getting off track…
The “Sea-Monkeys” advertised in old comic books were actually a unique type of crustacean known as brine shrimp. In fact, they were the result of the collaboration between a marine biologist and a resourceful inventor with a talent for marketing.
Scientists believe that brine shrimp have been present on Earth for millions of years. Instead of oceans, they prefer saltwater lakes with exceptionally high salinity. Because these lakes occasionally dry up, brine shrimp have adapted over time to survive in dry conditions by entering a state of hibernation known as anhydrobiosis.
In dry conditions, female brine shrimp can produce eggs with a specialized coating that allows them to remain metabolically inactive until suitable conditions return. In 1957, Harold von Braunhut, an inventor of novelty items, collaborated closely with Dr. Anthony D’Agostino, a marine biologist, to create a new hybrid species of brine shrimp that would have an extended dormant period.
Marketed as “Sea-Monkeys,” a kit would be delivered by mail containing two packets of powder. The first packet, called the “Water Purifier,” contained water conditioner, salt, and a few brine shrimp eggs. After adding the first packet to regular water, you would need to wait 24 hours before adding the second packet, called the “Instant Life Eggs,” which contained more brine shrimp eggs, salt, soda, borax, and food.
Shortly thereafter, the brine shrimp would hatch. To create an intriguing product, von Braunhut named them “Sea-Monkeys” because he claimed their tails resembled those of monkeys. However, they did not resemble monkeys at all, and they also did not resemble the alien-like creatures depicted in the Sea-Monkey advertisements.
Sea-Monkeys were extremely popular during the 1960s and 1970s. After all, who wouldn’t be amazed by adding powder to tap water and witnessing life emerge? Today, Sea-Monkey sales still reach millions of dollars annually.
When it comes to the creatures themselves, brine shrimp may not have the same level of appeal as sea monkeys. However, they are actually quite fascinating. Not only do they breathe through their feet, but they are also born with only one eye and develop two more as they mature! They are capable of surviving in extremely harsh conditions, including temperatures that are both boiling and below freezing, as well as the crushing pressures found in the depths of the ocean. Scientists have even sent them into space to test their ability to withstand cosmic radiation!
Give It a Try
Are you ready to learn more about sea monkeys? Explore the following activities with a friend or family member:
- Older individuals in your life may recall the vintage Sea-Monkeys advertisements in comic books. Take a look at one of these vintage ads online. What are your thoughts? Would you have been convinced to get some sea monkeys? Why or why not?
- If you can convince an adult family member or friend, you may be able to get some sea monkeys to keep in your room. But once you have them, what will you do? Don’t worry! Read through the online guide on How To Care for Sea Monkeys and you’ll become an expert caretaker in no time!
- Imagine if there were actually monkeys in the sea. How would they breathe? What would they look like? Write a short story that describes what an underwater world filled with monkeys might be like. Use your imagination and be as creative as possible! Remember to share your story with a friend or family member.
Sources of Wonder
1. Are there monkeys that live in the sea?
No, monkeys do not live in the sea. Monkeys are primarily land-dwelling animals and are not adapted for life in the water. They are known to live in various habitats such as forests, jungles, and savannas, but not in the sea.
2. Can monkeys swim?
While monkeys have the ability to swim, not all species are proficient swimmers. Some monkeys have adapted to their environment and developed swimming skills, while others are less inclined to venture into the water. For those that can swim, they usually do so to escape predators or cross bodies of water.
3. Do monkeys eat seafood?
No, monkeys are primarily herbivorous animals and their diet consists mainly of fruits, leaves, and insects. While some monkey species may occasionally consume small amounts of seafood, it is not a significant part of their diet. Their adaptations and digestive systems are not designed for consuming seafood on a regular basis.
4. Are there any primates that live in the sea?
Yes, there are primates that live in the sea. One example is the proboscis monkey, which is native to Borneo and is known for its ability to swim and dive in water. However, it is important to note that the proboscis monkey is not a true sea-dwelling primate and is primarily arboreal, living in mangrove forests along the coast.
5. Are there any marine animals that resemble monkeys?
While there are no marine animals that closely resemble monkeys, there are some marine mammals that share certain characteristics with them. For example, seals and sea lions have agile movements and can use their front flippers in a way that may remind people of monkeys. However, it is important to remember that these marine mammals are not related to monkeys and have adapted to life in the water in their own unique ways.