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Gray wolves

Gray wolf

“The gray wolf or grey wolf (Canis lupus), also known as the timber wolf or western wolf is a canine native to the wilderness and remote areas of Eurasia and North America. It is the largest extant member of its family, with males averaging 43–45 kg (95–99 lb), and females 36–38.5 kg (79–85 lb).[6] Like the red wolf, it is distinguished from other Canis species by its larger size and less pointed features, particularly on the ears and muzzle. Its winter fur is long and bushy, and predominantly a mottled gray in color, although nearly pure white, red, or brown to black also occur.
The gray wolf is a social animal, whose basic social unit consists of a mated pair, accompanied by the pair’s adult offspring.The average pack consists of a family of 5–11 animals (1–2 adults, 3–6 juveniles and 1–3 yearlings), or sometimes two or three such families,with exceptionally large packs consisting of 42 wolves being known.

Evolution and relationship with the dog

The evolution of the wolf occurred over a geologic time scale of 800,000 years, transforming the first Middle Pleistocene wolf specimen that is recognized as being morphologically similar to Canis lupus into today’s dog, dingo and gray wolf. Ecological factors including habitat type, climate, prey specialization and predatory competition will greatly influence the wolf’s genetic population structure and cranio-dental plasticity. Wolves went through a population bottleneck 20,000 years before present (YBP), which indicates that many wolf populations had gone extinct at a time that coincided with the Last Glacial Maximum and the expansion of modern humans worldwide with their technology for capturing large game. The domestic dog is the most widely abundant large carnivore and a descendant from one of those now-extinct wolf populations.

Population structure

In 2013, a genetic study found that the wolf population in Europe was divided along a north-south axis and formed five major clusters. ”