Wolves are famous for their chilling howl, which they use to intercommunicate. Communal howls may send territorial messages from one pack to another, while a lone wolf howls to draw in the attention of his pack. Some howls are confrontational. Howls may be responded to by competing packs. Similar to domestic dogs, wolves may simply start howling because a wolf nearby has already started.
A wolf, or a gray wolf , or an ordinary wolf (lat. Canis lupus), is a species of carnivorous mammal from the canine family (Canidae). Along with coyote (Canis latrans), common jackal (Canis aureus), and several other species, it forms the genus of wolves.
In addition, as shown by the results of studying the DNA sequence and gene drift, along with the jackal is a direct ancestor of a domestic dog, which is usually regarded as a subspecies of the wolf (Canis lupus familiaris).
The wolf is one of the largest modern animals in its family: the length of its body (excluding the tail) can reach 160 cm, the length of the tail – up to 52 cm, the height at the withers – up to 90 cm; body weight can reach 90-100 kg.
HOW MANY SPECIES OF WOLVES ARE THERE?
In total, approximately 32 subspecies of the wolf are distinguished, differing in size and shade of the fur. On the territory of the Russian Federation, the common (Cllupus) and tundra (Clalbus) wolves are most often found.
Wolves & The Ecosystem
As one of the key predators, wolves play a very important role in the balance of ecosystems of biomes such as temperate forests, taiga, tundra, steppes and mountain systems, as well as deserts and semi-deserts (Arabian wolf).
Types Of Wolves
There’s two globally acknowledged species of wolves on earth: the red wolf (Canis rufus) and the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Two fellow members of the canine family are thought to be wolves by a few scientists along with other species by other experts. Using molecular genetic analysis on wolves is indicating there could possibly be two more types of wolf on the planet.
Some researchers wonder if the Abyssinian or Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis) is really a genuine wolf or perhaps a jackal. Some other scientific study has offered solid proof that the Eastern timber wolf, may be a unique species, the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon). Because of the intricate nature of researching wolves using molecular genetics to differentiate species, the procedure requires a great deal of time to arrive at sound results.
The Evolution Of Wolves
The most likely ancestor of the wolf is Canis lepophagus, a small representative of the canine family with a narrow skull, who lived in Miocene North America and, possibly, also was the ancestor of the coyote. After the extinction of borophages, a large genus of canids, C. lepophagus increased body size and skull width. Fossils of this species found in northern Texas may belong to the representative of the ancestors of all modern wolves. The first real wolves begin to appear in the early Pleistocene, about 1,800,000 years ago. Among them was Canis priscolatrans, a small species resembling a modern red wolf colonizing Eurasia through Beringia. A new population of Eurasian C. priscolatrans gradually evolved into C. mosbachensis, which closely resembles modern wolves. It was common in Europe from the beginning of the Quaternary glaciation to about 500,000 years ago and subsequently evolved into Canis lupus.
Studies of mitochondrial DNA have shown that there are at least 4 genealogical lines of the wolf, the oldest of which is the African line, which appeared in the middle of the Late Pleistocene. The remaining lines belong to the Indian subcontinent. Of these, the line of the Himalayan wolf, which appeared about 800,000 years ago, during the period of major climatic and geological changes in the Himalayan region, is considered the oldest. The Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes) separated from the Himalayan about 400,000 years ago. The latest line is the Tibetan wolf (Canis lupus chanco), a native of Kashmirthat appeared 150,000 years ago. It is this line, known as the Holarctic treasure, that has spread to Europe and North America, as shown by the exchange of DNA markers between a domestic dog, a European and a North American wolf.
The now extinct Japanese wolf is a descendant of the great Siberian wolf, which colonized the Korean Peninsula in the Pleistocene and Japan, when it was still part of mainland Asia. During the Holocene, the Sangar Strait separated Honshu from Hokkaido, causing climate change that led to the extinction of most of the large ungulate inhabitants of the archipelago, and the Japanese wolf suffered island dwarfism . The Hokkaido Wolf ( Canis lupus hattai ) was noticeably larger than its southern cousin, the Japanese Chondos Wolf ( Canis lupus hodophilax ), having access to larger prey and continuing genetic interchange with the Siberian wolf.
In the late Holocene, Canis lupus recolonized North America. The larger dire wolf (Canis dirus) that lived there died out 8,000 years ago due to the disappearance of large prey. Competition with the appearing “gray” wolf for small and brisk prey accelerated this process. After the disappearance of the “dire” wolf, the “gray” increased in size and spread everywhere.
The size and total mass of wolves are subject to strong geographical variability; it is noted that they vary proportionally depending on the surrounding climate and in full accordance with Bergman’s rule (the colder the climate, the larger the animal). In the general case, the height of the animals at the withers ranges from 66–86 cm, length is 105–160 cm, and weight is 32–62 kg, which makes the common wolf one of the largest mammals in the family. The arrived (one-year-old) wolves weigh in the range of 20-30 kg, the outbreaks (2-3 years) – 35-45 kg. A wolf grows up at the age of 2.5-3 years, reaching a weight of 50 or more kilograms. In Siberia and Alaska, large seasoned wolves can weigh more than 77 kg.
How Big Do Wolves Grow In The Wild?
A large animal was recorded in 1939 in Alaska: its weight was about 80 kg. It is believed that in Siberia the weight of individual specimens may exceed 92 kg. The smallest subspecies should be considered the Arabian wolf ( Cl arabs ), females of which in adulthood can weigh only 10 kg. Within one population, males are always larger than females by about 20%, and with a more broad-headed head.
The Appearance Of A Wolf
In general terms, the wolf resembles a large sharp-eyed dog. The legs are high, strong; the paw is larger and more extended than the dog’s paw, the length of the track is about 9-12 cm, width 7 cm, the middle two toes are more extended forward, the toes are not spread out and the print is more prominent than that of the dog. The track of the wolf’s foot is smoother and forms an almost even line, while in dogs it forms a winding line. The head is broad-faced, the muzzle is relatively wide, strongly elongated and flanked by “whiskers” on the sides. The massive face of the wolf distinguishes it well from the jackal and coyote, in which it is narrower and sharper. In addition, it is very expressive: scientists distinguish more than 10 facial expressions: anger, anger, humility, affection, fun, alertness, threat, calm, fear.
Head Of A Wolf
The skull is large, massive, high. The nasal opening is wide, especially notably widening downward. The largest length of the skull of males is 268–285, females 251–268, condylobasal length of the skull of males 250–262, females 230–247, zygomatic width of males 147–160, females 136–159, interorbital width of males 84–90, females 78–85, the length of the upper row of teeth of males is 108–116, and females are 100–112 mm.
The structure of the teeth of the wolf is an important characteristic that determines the lifestyle of this predator. On the upper jaw there are 6 incisors , 2 canines , 8 premolars and 4 molars . The lower jaw contains 2 molars more. The fourth upper premolars and the first lower molars make up carnivorous teeth , which play a major role in the division of game. An important role is also played by the fangs with which the predator holds and drags the prey. The teeth of a wolf can withstand a load of more than 10 megapascals and are both its main weapon and a means of protection. Their loss to the wolf is fatal and leads to hunger and loss of legal capacity.
The tail is rather long, thick and, unlike the canine, is always down; hunters call it “logs.” The tail is the expressive “tongue” of the wolf. By his position and movement, one can judge the mood of the wolf, whether he is calm or afraid, and his position in the pack.
The fur of the wolves is thick, rather long and consists of two layers, which is why sometimes the animal looks larger than it actually is. The first coat of hair consists of stiff outer hair that repels water and dirt. The second layer, called the undercoat, includes waterproof fluff that warms the animal. In late spring or early summer, fluff lumps exfoliate from the body (molting), while animals rub against stones or tree branches in order to facilitate this process.
Between the subspecies of the wolf there are significant differences in color, often in accordance with the environment. Forest wolves are gray-brown. Tundra – light, almost white. Desert – grayish-reddish. In the highlands of Central Asia , wolves have a bright ocher color. In addition, pure white, red or almost black individuals are found. The wolf’s coloration is solid, dark and brightens with age, and the blue iris of the eyes after 8–16 weeks of life usually becomes golden yellow or orange. In rare cases, the eyes of wolves remain blue for life. Within the same population, coat color may also vary between individuals or have mixed shades. The differences apply only to the outer layer of the coat – the undercoat is always gray. It is often believed that the color of the coat is designed to merge the animal with the environment, that is, it acts as a camouflage; however, this is not entirely true: some scientists point out that mixed colors enhance the individuality of a particular individual.
Wolf Tracks (Spoor)
The wolf spoor (tracks) are distinguishable from the dog’s tracks in several ways: the lateral fingers (index and little fingers) are more set back relative to the middle (middle and ring), if you draw a straight line from the tip of the little finger to the tip of the index finger, then the base of the middle fingers will only slightly go beyond this line, while the dog behind the line will have about a third of the length of the pads of the middle fingers. Also, the wolf holds its paw “in a lump” so the print is more prominent, and therefore the wolf’s footprint is slightly smaller than a dog’s footprint of the same size. In addition, the track of the tracks of the wolf is much more direct than the track of the tracks of the dog, which serves as a reliable “identification mark.” The footprint of a seasoned wolf has a length of 9.5-10.5 cm, a width of 6-7 cm of a she-wolf – 8.5-9.5 cm and 5-6 cm.
The sense of smell in the wolf is very developed. They can detect prey at a distance of 3 kilometers. The wolf’s nose is 14 times larger than the human, and the smell of wolves is 100 times better than that of humans. Wolves distinguish about 200 million shades of smell, people only 5 million. Through smells, the wolf receives most of the information. The process of receiving and transmitting such information, as well as the appropriate forms of behavior associated with the smell examination of partners and leaving smell marks, play an important role in the life of the beast. Sources of odor signals can be urine, feces, and even saliva. Feces can carry information not only about the species, but probably about the animal’s field. A significant increase in odor marking is observed in wolves during rutting and the formation of new pairs. A characteristic feature in these cases is double labeling, when the male urinates over the female’s urine mark. In this case, odor labeling can help synchronize sexual activity and rallying a pair.
Recent studies have confirmed the great importance for the wolf of its well-developed sense of smell. Of the fifty-one observations of the hunting of a pack of wolves for moose in forty-two cases (82.35%), predators found a moose with a sense of hearing and less often.
The variety and frequency range of the vocal means of wolves far exceeds the capabilities of the vast majority of animals (except humans and bats). Wolves make such sounds as howling, whimpering, grunting, growling, yapping, screeching, barking. Each sound has a huge number of variations.
With the help of a voice, wolves can transmit very complex messages – about finding a certain animal in a certain place. Thus, the researcher Farley Mowet observed in the Canadian tundra how, along a chain of wolves, they transmitted long distances of information that the deer they expected had moved south and were there. In this case, the wolf first listens to information coming from another wolf, which can be eight kilometers away. Then the transmitter throws his head back and howls in a vibrating howl: at first low, but ending on the highest note still perceived by the human ear. Checking the wolf message about the deer finding confirmed this case. Wolves can even inform each other about the appearance of humans.
The wolf’s attack signal is a war cry from the pack leader. This sound is similar to the growl of an angry dog rushing at a person.
Wolves howl at dawn or dusk, but not every day. The howl begins with a solo howl of the leader, which differs significantly from the howl of other members of the pack. They join a little later. Choral howl usually ends with a yapping screeching bark.
The collective howls and sounds of the pack is a sign of social life and gives a sense of belonging to the pack . It is also a means of communicating with other packs and stray brethren.
Some people can understand the sound messages that wolves exchange; These included the Eskimo Utek, met in the Canadian tundra by F. Mowet
In the course of evolution, a series of physiological characteristics have been formed in wolves that allow them to travel long distances in search of food. This is facilitated by a narrow streamlined chest, a sloping back and strong legs. They easily trot at a distance of several kilometers at a speed of 10 km / h, and during the chase they can reach speeds of 65 km / h, while jumping up to 5 m.
The structure of the paws of animals allows them to feel free in different landscapes, including in deep snow. Between the toes there are small membranes, due to which the specific load on the surface is reduced, and predators are able to move in the snow much faster than their prey. Another feature of the structure of the paws is that, when moving, the wolves do not rest on the entire paw, but only on the fingers, that is, they are “finger-like” – this method of movement helps them balance their weight. The fore paws are larger than the hind legs and have an additional (fifth) vestigial toe from the inside of the metatarsus. Bristly hair and blunt claws help maintain balance on slippery surfaces, and special blood vessels protect paws from hypothermia.
The odorous glands located on the paws between the fingers leave identification marks for the animal, which on the one hand facilitate orientation on the ground, and on the other hand inform the other wolves about the leader’s movement. Another feature that helps animals survive in harsh winters is the low thermal conductivity of the fur (1.2-1.5 times lower than the thermal conductivity of the muskrat and beaver skins).
The World Wide Distribution of Wolves
The wolf lives in a variety of landscapes, but prefers the steppes, semi-deserts, tundra , forest-steppe, avoiding dense forests. In the mountains, it is distributed from the foot to the area of alpine meadows, adhering to open, weakly crossed sections. Can settle not far from human habitation. In the taiga zone, it spread after the person, as the taiga was cut down.
The wolf is a fairly territorial creature. Breeding pairs, and often flocks, live settled in certain areas, the boundaries of which are indicated by odorous marks. The diameter of the site occupied by the flock in the winter is usually 30-60 kilometers. In spring and summer, when the flock breaks up, the territory it occupies is divided into several fragments. The best of them is captured and held by the main pair, the rest of the wolves go on a semi-stray lifestyle. In the open steppes and tundra, wolves often wander after moving herds of livestock or domestic deer.
The Wolf’s Den
Lairs are arranged for breeding; usually they are served as natural shelters – crevices in the rocks, bushes and the like.
Sometimes wolves occupy burrows of badgers , marmots , arctic foxes.and other animals, less often they dig them on their own.
The female is most attached to the lair during the offspring rearing; the male does not use it. Puppies are bred in sheltered places: in a forest strip – mainly in dense shrubs, on manes among marshy swamps; in the steppes – along ravines, gullies and dry reed thickets overgrown with bushes near lakes; in the tundra – in the hills.
It is characteristic that wolves never hunt near their home, but at a distance of 7-10 km and beyond. After the wolf cubs grow up, the animals cease to use the permanent den, and take a rest in various, but reliable places. Small brown cubs are similar to ordinary puppies of a domestic dog.
Lifestyle & Nutrition
What Do Wolves Eat in the Wild?
The basis for feeding wolves is ungulate animals: in the tundra – reindeer; in the forest zone – moose, deer, roe deer, wild boars; in the steppes and deserts – antelopes.
Wolves also attack domestic animals (sheep, cows , horses), including dogs. Especially solitary wolves are caught and smaller prey: hares, ground squirrels, mouse-like rodents.
In summer, wolves do not miss the chance to eat a laying of eggs, chicks sitting on nests or feeding on the ground grouse, waterfowl and other birds. Often, domestic geese are also caught.
Sometimes foxes and raccoons become prey for wolves.; occasionally hungry wolves attack the bears sleeping in the den. A case was recorded when a pack of wolves attacked and ate a young bear.
There are many cases when they tore and ate weakened animals, wounded by hunters or severely injured in a fight during the rutting season. Unlike many other predators, wolves often return to the half-eaten remnants of their prey, especially during the hungry season.
Omnivores. Do not disdain the corpses of livestock, but on the sea coasts – the carcasses of seals and other sea animals thrown ashore.
During periods of nesting, wolves eat reptiles, frogs and even large insects (beetles, locusts).
Wolves, especially in the southern regions, also eat plant foods – different berries, wild and garden fruits, even mushrooms.
In the steppes, they often raid melons and watermelons and melons , satisfying not so much hunger as thirst, because they need a regular, plentiful watering.
Wolves often make their presence known with a loud howl, very different from seasoned males, she-wolves and young animals. The howl is intended for long-distance communication of wolves, notification, mutual identification, acoustic location of each other, statements of territorial claims, courtship of individuals of the opposite sex, etc.
During the hunt, wolves, as a rule, do not make unnecessary sounds and move very silently, so as not to frighten off the prey.
Of the external senses, the wolf has the best developed hearing; the smell is slightly worse; vision is much weaker. Well-developed higher nervous activity in wolves it is combined with strength, dexterity, speed and other physical data that increase the chances of this predator in the struggle for existence.
If necessary, the wolf speeds up to 55-60 km / h and is able to make transitions up to 60-80 km per night. And it accelerates to a gallop in a few seconds, overcoming 4 meters, after which it is already rushing at full speed.
When attacking a herd, wolves often slaughter several animals. Wolves leave inedible meat in reserve.
Mentally, the wolf is highly developed. This is expressed in the ability to navigate the environment and move away from danger, as well as in hunting methods.
There are cases when a pack of wolves was divided, and one part remained in ambush, while the other caught up on its prey.
In a pack chasing an elk or a deer, often some wolves run along the heels of the prey, while others cross the line or shy away slowly and, having rested, replace the advanced ones until they tire the victim.
A strictly defined hierarchy is observed within the pack, on top of which there is a dominant couple, followed by adult family members, lone wolves and lastly, the puppies of the last litter.
As a rule, instinct makes predators look for a partner and territory for breeding outside their pack. The scattering of animals that have reached puberty occurs year-round, and puppies of the same litter usually do not mate together. Puberty occurs in the third or fourth year of life
After 62–65 days of pregnancy, the females bring from 3 to 13 blind wolf cubs, discerning for 12–13 days. At a later stage, grown up cubs are fed by parents belching from eaten meat. The whole pack takes part in feeding wolf cubs.
By the end of summer, young wolves begin to take part in hunting with adults. At this time, the wolf cubs born in the previous year (outbreaks) are driven away for breeding time. The pack holds together until the estrus begins, when the former outbreaks participate in breeding, and the newly arrived wolves temporarily drive away. A pack of wolves in the autumn-winter season can consist of two old couples, 3–6 arrived and 2–4 outbreaks, that is, from 7–12 individuals, rarely more.
Although wolves carefully take care of their offspring, up to 60-80% of puppies die in the first year of life. She-wolves reach puberty in the second year of life, and males in 3 years. In nature, wolves live up to 15 years, but already at 10-12 years old they show signs of old age.
Unlike domestic animals, in which estrus passes 2 times a year, wolves have 1 estrus in a year. This period correlates with the time of year so that the wolf cubs are born in the warm spring season, when there is enough food. The female will not accept male sexual advances before estrus.
With the onset of the mating season, which, depending on latitude, falls between January and April, tensions increase in the pack: the male and female of the dominant couple aggressively guard their partner from other members of the pack, and a group gathers around young and old single she-wolves males, between which fierce fights arise, sometimes fatal.
As soon as a new pair is formed, the male and female together begin to search for a place for future conception and breeding offspring. In this period, before the onset of estrus, male and female in every possible way look after each other, keep side by side and court with each other.
Under normal conditions, a pack displays only one offspring per season, with a pair of leaders acting as the parents of the puppies. When an alpha female has an estrus state (and this happens once a year and lasts 5-14 days), she and her partner leave the pack, retire and mate.
The fact that the female is in heat, the male learns from the smell of pheromones secreted in the urine of the female. With the onset of estrus, the female is immune to mating for several days, and only with the onset of ovulation does mating occur.
The wolf is harmful to livestock and hunting (for example, in Yakutia, wolves killed more than 200 horses and about 800 domestic reindeer in 2012), but, on the other hand, plays an important role in the ecosystem, controlling the number of animals and destroying weak and sick individuals. Until recently, wolf hunting was allowed in Russia all year round.
At the same time, in 1995, fourteen wolves were released into the wild in Yellowstone National Park in the United States in order to stop the uncontrolled breeding of wapiti deer, which had already inflicted severe damage to the local flora, eating trees and bushes.
iIn 1926, just in order to preserve these noble deer, the wolf population was completely destroyed. The reverse action led to a radical change in the entire ecosystem of the park, which literally revived.
With a correction in the number of deer, vegetation began to revive and over six years the number of trees in the area of canyons and ravines increased five-fold, which led to the return of beavers and muskrats to the park.
Wolves reduced the population of jackals, which led to an increase in the number of hares and mice, and they in turn attracted hawks, ferrets and foxes to the park.
Again came the grizzly bear, which was attracted by the increase in the number of bushes of snowdrop, blueberry, bird cherry and other berries that they feed on before hibernation. Even the riverbeds changed, whose banks were strengthened by erosion from overgrown trees and bushes.
By breeding some dog breeds and a wolf, new breeds were created, such as the wolf dog Saarloos.
subspecies: Canis lupus albus Kerr, 1792
subspecies: † Canis lupus alces Goldman, 1941
subspecies: Canis lupus arabs Pocock, 1934
subspecies: Canis lupus arctos (Pocock, 1935)
subspecies: Canis lupus baileyi (Nelson and Goldman, 1929)
subspecies: † Canis lupus beothucus G.M. Allen & Barbour, 1937
subspecies: † Canis lupus bernardi Anderson, 1943
subspecies: Canis lupus campestris Dwigubski, 1804
subspecies: Canis lupus chanco Gray, 1863
subspecies: Canis lupus columbianus Goldman, 1941
subspecies: Canis lupus crassodon Hall, 1932
subspecies: † Canis lupus deitanus Cabrera, 1907
subspecies: Canis lupus dingo Meyer, 1793 (Dingo is a second feral domestic dog)
subspecies: Canis lupus familiaris Linnaeus, 1758 . ( Pet is a dog)
subspecies: † Canis lupus fuscus Richardson, 1839
subspecies: † Canis lupus griseoalbus Baird, 1858
subspecies: Canis lupus hallstromi Troughton, 1958 (New Guinean Singing Dog – Feral Dog)
subspecies: † Canis lupus hattai Kishida, 1931
subspecies: † Canis lupus hodophilax Temminck, 1839
subspecies: Canis lupus hudsonicus Goldman, 1941
subspecies: † Canis lupus irremotus Goldman, 1937
subspecies: Canis lupus labradorius Goldman, 1937
subspecies: Canis lupus ligoni Goldman, 1937
subspecies: Canis lupus lupus Linnaeus, 1758
subspecies: Canis lupus lycaon Schreber, 1775
subspecies: Canis lupus mackenzii Anderson, 1943
subspecies: Canis lupus manningi Anderson, 1943
subspecies: † Canis lupus minor (Ogerien, 1863)
subspecies: † Canis lupus mogollonensis Goldman, 1937
subspecies: † Canis lupus monstrabilis Goldman, 1937
subspecies: Canis lupus nubilus Say, 1823
subspecies: Canis lupus occidentalis Richardson, 1829
subspecies: Canis lupus orion Pocock, 1935
subspecies: Canis lupus pallipes Sykes, 1831
subspecies: Canis lupus pambasileus Elliot, 1905
subspecies: Canis lupus rufus Audubon & Bachman, 1851
subspecies: Canis lupus signatus Cabrera, 1907
subspecies: Canis lupus tundrarum Miller, 1912
subspecies: † Canis lupus youngi Goldman, 1937
67 Fun Facts Of The Wolf
- The Vikings wore wolf skins and drank wolf-blood before the battle, which they took with them to raise their fighting spirit.
- The earliest images of wolves are found in caves in the south of Europe, and they are already more than 20,000 years old.
- It is impossible to tame a wolf and make it a guard dog, he will be afraid of strangers and will hide from them instead of barking.
- The autoimmune disease “lupus,” or skin tuberculosis, literally means “red wolf,” because, in the eighteenth century, doctors believed that the disease developed after a wolf bite.
- Wolves are able distinguish about 200 million shades of smell; people are only 5 million.
- Wolves can smell the smell of other animals at a distance of 1.5 kilometers.
- In the wild, wolves can breed from the age of two. Females may produce once a year. Usually, mating occurs at the end of winter.
- A wolf’s pregnancy lasts 62-75 days; the young are typically born in the summer.
- The average litter consists of 5-6 cubs.
- Wolf pups are born blind and deaf and covered with short, soft grayish-brown fur. At birth, they weigh 300-500 grams. During the first month, they eat mother’s milk.
- After three weeks, the cubs leave the lair for the first time.
- At 1.5 months of age, wolf pups are already able to escape from danger. They begin to eat solid food at the age of 3-4 weeks.
- During the first four months of life, wolf cubs mature very quickly: during this time the weight of the cub can increase almost 30 times.
- Wolves are very territorial animals. They protect their territory from other packs by marking the area with their smell, direct attacks and howling.
- Biologists have determined that wolves will react to people imitating wolf howls.
- The wolf howl lasts no more than 5 seconds, just because of the echo it seems that the sound is longer.
- A single wolf may howl to attract partners or merely because they are alone.
- he eyes of wolf puppies are always blue at birth. They turn yellow by only eight months.
- The wolf’s gestation period is about 65 days.
- Wolf puppies are born deaf and blind and weigh just half a kilo.
- Wolves were once the most common terrestrial predators, the only places they did not live in were deserts and tropical forests.
- Wolf teeth create huge pressure in the cleft palate, about 300 kilograms per square centimeter (compared with 150 kg/cm in a dog).
- The population of the North American gray wolf in the 1600th year was 2 million. Today there are no more than 65 thousand left in North America.
- Between 1883 and 1918, more than 80,000 wolves were killed in the US state of Montana alone.
- A hungry wolf can eat 10 kilograms of meat in one sitting; it is as if a person ate a hundred hamburgers in one sitting.
- A wolf pack may consist of two or three individuals, or maybe ten times more.
- Wolves are descended from ancient animals called Mesocyon, which lived about 35 million years ago. It was a small animal, like a dog, with short legs and a long body. Perhaps they, like wolves, lived in packs.
- The Dire wolves (“canis dirus”) are one of the representatives of prehistoric wolves who lived in North America about two million years ago. They hunted mainly for prey as big as mammoths.
- Wolves can swim to a distance of 13 kilometers, helping themselves when moving in water with small membranes between their paws.
- Adolf Hitler (whose name means “lead wolf”) was fascinated by wolves and sometimes required to call himself “Mr. Wolf” or “conductor Wolf” as a pseudonym.
- Wolf’s Gorge (Wolfsschlucht), Wolf’s Lair (Wolfschanze) and Werewolf (Wehrwolf) were codenamed by Hitler for various military headquarters.
- In the 1600s, Ireland was called “Wolf Land”, because at that time there were so many wolves. Wolf hunting was the most popular sport among the nobles who used wolfhounds to locate a wolf and kill it.
- In 1927, a French policeman was convicted of shooting a boy, whom he considered to be a werewolf. In the same year in France, the last wild wolf was killed.
- When Europeans sailed to North America, the wolf became among them the most popular prey in animal hunting throughout American history. These animals were on the verge of extinction at the beginning of the 20th century. Federally, the US government even adopted a program to eliminate wolves in the western states in 1915.
- Wolves can run for a minute or two at a speed of 32 km/h and top speeds of up to 56 km/h. During the day they run “at a trot” (about 8 km/h) and can travel at that speed throughout the day.
- The smallest species wolves live in the Middle East, where they reach a mass of no more than 30 kilograms.
- The largest wolf species live in Canada, Alaska, and Russia, where they gain a mass of up to 80 kilograms.
- Wolves with the help of a howl are associated with disunited members of their group to rally before the hunt, or to warn rivals of other packs to keep away from them.
- Under certain weather conditions, wolves can hear sounds at a distance of 9 kilometers in the forest, and 16 km. in the open area.
- The reflective layer in the eyes of the wolf is called “tapetum lucidum” (from Latin means “bright tapestry”), it glows in the dark, and also contributes to the night vision of the animal.
- Where wolves live, crows are often found (sometimes called “wolf-birds”). The crows follow after the packs of wolves to get the leftovers from the hunt and also use the wolves as protection.
- According to the testimony of Pliny the Elder, a Greek scholar of the first century believed that wolf manure could be used to treat stomach colic and cataracts.
- The Aztecs used the wolf liver to treat melancholia as an ingredient for medication. Also, they stabbed the dying man’s chest with a pointed wolf bone in an attempt to delay the date of death.
- In the Middle Ages, Europeans used wolf liver-based powders to relieve pain during childbirth.
- The Greeks believed that if someone ate the meat of a wolf that kills lambs, he is at high risk of becoming a vampire.
- The Cherokee Indians did not hunt the wolves, because they believed that the brothers of the dead would take revenge on them. Also, the weapon with which the wolf was killed was considered “spoiled”.
- The British King Edgard introduced a special annual tax of 300 hides for Wales, and as a result, the Welsh wolf population was quickly destroyed.
- In 1500, the last wild wolf was killed in England, in 1700 in Ireland, and in 1772 on Danish soil.
- Germany became the first country that in 1934 placed a population of wolves under environmental laws. Under the influence of Friedrich Nietzsche (born 1844-um.1900) and Oswald Spengler (born 1880-um.1936), society became convinced that natural predators matter much more than their value after a murder. By the way, in Germany, all wild wolves were exterminated by the middle of the nineteenth century.
- Unlike other animals, wolves have many distinctive facial movements that they use to communicate and maintain relationships in the pack.
- In Japanese, the word wolf is characterized as “the great god.”
- From 6000 to 7000 wolf skins are still sold annually in the world. They are supplied mainly from Russia, Mongolia, and China, and are most often used for sewing coats.
- In India, simple traps are still used to catch wolves. These traps are pits disguised with branches and leaves. Wolves fall into a hole on sharp stakes, and people finish them off with stones.
- Wolves were the first animals that came under protection in the list of the law on the threat of extinction in 1973.
- The famous poem by John Milton “Lycidas” got its name from the name of the Greek wolf cub Lykideus.
- In the world of Harry Potter was a werewolf Remus Lupine, whose name is directly connected with the Latin word “lupus”, but the name most likely originated from Rem, the founder of Rome, who was fed by wolves.
- The last wolf in Yellowstone National Park was killed in 1926. In 1995, people managed to resume a population of wolves, and after a decade, about 136 wolves roam in the park, huddled together in 13 packs.
- Currently, there are about 50 thousand wolves in Canada and Alaska, 6500 in the United States. On the European continent, in Italy – less than 300, in Spain about 2000, in Norway and Sweden – less than 80. There are about 700 wolves in Poland, and 70 thousand in Russia.
- Wolves never miss a chance to eat. Often, living in the most severe corners of the planet, wolves usually eat their wounded or sick relatives. Trapped wolves should be picked up as soon as possible because there is a high risk that other wolves will find it and eat it.
- Some wolves can reach a weight of 100 kg. The size of wolves grows exponentially according to the degree of remoteness from the equator. Tropical wolves are often the same size as ordinary dogs, but wolves of the far north, on average, weigh more than 60 kg.
- In 2008, researchers at Stanford University found that mutations associated with the appearance of black fur are found only in dogs, so black wolves are nothing but descendants of hybrids. Most often such wolves are located in North America.
- In areas where wolves were subject to mass extermination, coyotes flourished. Recent studies have shown that 22% of all coyotes in North America are descendants of wolves. Such animals are usually larger than ordinary coyotes, but smaller than wolves, and are also known to be extremely cunning.
- Although wolves are not the primary carriers of rabies, they can quickly pick it up from raccoons and foxes. Unlike other animals that, when infected, become lethargic and become disoriented, wolves instantly become enraged. Most cases of attacks on people provoked by rabies. And the desire of wolves to bite the neck or head often leads to the fact that the rabies virus enters the human brain much earlier before medical care.
- American wolves are less likely to attack humans than their other brethren. Historical records indicate more than 3,000 people killed by wolves in France between 1580 and 1830. Wolves of India and Russia keep up with them. In the USA and Canada, on the contrary, there is an extremely small number of officially confirmed attacks of wolves.
- Despite their close kinship, wolves perceive dogs mainly as prey. In Russia, at one time, stray dogs served as the staple food for wolves.
- The plague that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages caused tensions between humans and wolves. In those days, the corpses were destroyed much faster by wolves, and not by fire or burial underground. Such methods of “burial” instilled the taste of human blood to whole generations of wolves. It was probably from that time that wolves included human meat in their “menu”.
- Smallpox brought to America by European settlers had a catastrophic effect on local residents. Its victims were 80-90% of all people inhabiting the continent. Feeling easy prey, the wolves attacked Native Indian villages, devouring the bodies of the helpless sick.
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