All you need to know about Wolves

The wolf's ancestors

According to the theory of evolution, the ancestor of the wolf was such a canis lepophagus-an ancient mammal that resembles a coyote and lives in North America. Over time, the ancestor of the wolf increased its size, including the size of the skull. The oldest member of the wolf family, already similar to the modern wolf, was found during the study of an early pleistocyte that existed 1.8 million years ago. Although it was only similar to the modern wolf, which is somewhat later – from a million to 150 thousand years ago.

"Eurasian Wolf" by "Mas3cf" is licensed under CC by Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

"Eurasian Wolf" by "Mas3cf" is licensed under CC by Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International

In general, zoologists have discovered as many as four family trees of wolves: African, Himalayan, Indian and Tibetan lines. The Himalayan line is the oldest of them, which means that the Himalayan wolf is the most venerable representative of the order of wolves, its appearance took place about a million years ago. The Tibetan wolf is conventionally "the youngest", as it appeared "only" 150 thousand years ago.

Wolf-description, structure, and characteristics. What does a wolf look like?

All wolves are notorious predators, there are no options here, and the predators are quite large, the largest are gray and polar wolves: their height reaches 85 cm, body length-150-160 cm, this is without taking into account the tail, weight-85-90 kg. At the same time, the harsher the habitat, the larger the animal, no wonder the largest representatives of the wolf family live in the Siberian taiga.

The smallest wolves are Arabian, their maximum height does not exceed 66 cm, and the average weight is only 10 kg. Also, in general, all wolves have females that are slightly smaller than males.

Outwardly, wolves are similar to dogs, which is not surprising, because they are their distant relatives.

The wolf's mouth has 42 teeth, including four canines, which serve the owner to tear prey apart, grind bones, and canines perfectly help to drag the victim.

Interesting fact: all wolves are born gobug-eyed, but already in the third month their eyes turn orange or golden-yellow. Although there are wolves that remain blue-eyed.

The wolf's fur is thick and double-layered, it perfectly protects them from the cold in the cold conditions of the same tundra or taiga, and also has a waterproof down.

Coat colors can be different colors, depending on the type of wolf and its habitat, there are a variety of variations of gray, white, brown and black colors. There are also red wolves. Often the color helps them blend in with the surrounding space.

Perhaps you know the proverb "the wolf's feet feed", it also has a scientific and zoological basis, since its legs really feed, and for this reason they are well developed, allowing it to move considerable distances in search of food. Usually, wolves trot at an average speed of 10 km per hour, but the speed of a wolf chasing prey can reach 65 km per hour.

The wolf's eyesight is not the strongest quality, it is not very developed, besides, it does not distinguish colors, but this disadvantage is more than compensated by excellent hearing and especially charm – it can smell prey from 3 km away, in general, its nose distinguishes only by a shade of smell.

Also, another characteristic feature of wolves is their famous howl, which actually has a practical meaning for them-wolves do not just fight for the Moon (as was previously thought), but in such a simple way they inform the pack members of their location, and at the same time drive away strangers.

What does a wolf eat?

Wolves are excellent hunters, and they are equally successful in hunting, both in packs and singly. Their prey in the forest is many herbivorous animals: elk, deer, roe deer, saiga antelopes, wild boars, hares, ground squirrels. At the same time, wolves are a kind of useful orderlies of the forest, because old, weak, sick animals first get to them for lunch, so natural selection takes place. An interesting feature of the wolf is its practical habit of hiding excess meat in reserve.

How a Wolf differs from a Dog

Recently, interest in wolves has not subsided. They even say that we live in the "age of the wolf". A person is drawn to nature and tries to take it at least a little bit to his home. And the wolf is the very expression of a wild and unbridled element. And with dogs it is very similar. Or doesn't it look like it?

It seems that take a cub in the house, feed it from the teat and it will be practically a dog. After all, this is what the first person did once. However, in reality, the process of domestication was long and difficult.

Modern representatives of canids are very different in their behavior. Differences also appear in physiology. Wolf-monocyclic animal (flows once a year), dog-poly (usually two estrus per year). It would seem, what is the connection? In fact, direct, because as a result, there were changes in the hormonal level. And hormones can influence behavior. Another difference is that wolves, jackals, and some native breeds cannot digest starch. They do not produce the corresponding enzyme. Any food (all dry food contains starch to form granules) and cereals can cause diarrhea and will not be digested. Most dogs have this enzyme.

There are also differences in the social system of the pack. The fact is that unlike dogs, where the pack is represented by a fairly large number of not always related individuals, wolves pack is a family. At the head of the clan are a male and a female, who actively reproduce. The remaining members are their descendants. Related adults that do not have a pair can also join. Usually this is a single male who plays the role of an uncle. In case of injury, illness or old age, wolves do not abandon such relatives. The younger ones bring them food and help them. In general, individuals older than a year are a valuable resource for the pack. If the mother abandons small cubs completely calmly (she can give birth again) and does not spend energy on their defense, then older wolves will actively defend themselves as a whole pack. The wolves won't accept outsiders.

Building a pack according to the family type has led to the fact that wolves do not have a strict hierarchy. A lower-standing individual can safely take meat from the leader during the meal and it will not have anything. There are scientific studies showing that wolves have a lower frequency of conflicts and more ritual manifestations of aggression than dogs. Dogs have a shorter period of ritual relationships and then they come into conflict. The stronger it was, the greater the frequency of avoiding each other in dogs. Wolves are more likely to make peace.

Unlike wolves, the dog pack has a more rigid hierarchy. There is an alpha, usually a male. The rest are divided into ranks according to their physical abilities. Dog food is a valuable resource. They protect it from everyone, including related individuals. Experiments have shown that dogs are less likely to cooperate with their fellows and more likely to seek help from humans.

Another significant difference between a wolf and a dog is the distance of avoidance. But I would like to talk about this in more detail in another article. As well as about the peculiarities of the manifestation of fears of wolves, Vlchaks and dogs.

What happens to wolves in old age

Old age is not a joy.

Sooner or later, there comes a time when the hair turns gray, vision and hearing sit down, and the bones begin to crunch disgustingly. Yes, and instead of teeth, most often there are dentures.

This is not counting the whole "bouquet" of sores that stuck to the body during the years of turbulent youth.

Such is old age.

True, it has nothing in common with wolves. The symptoms described above apply exclusively to people who live in villages and megacities — in a civilized society, in a word. And in the wild, only someone who has been kissed on the crown of the head by Lady Luck can live to a very old age. This rarely happens.

most often there are dentures.

By default, Wolves are programmed to live for 15 years.

But when the" program "was sewn into the genetic code, apparently, the features of the wolves' life were not taken into account — fights with competitors, risks during hunting, collisions with people.

It is good if the wolf lives at least 10 years. They usually die when they are in the prime of life — at the age of 6-8 years.

It is not only difficult for wolves to live to old age, but sometimes even reaching the age of one year is unrealistic — more than 50% of cubs die for various reasons in the first year of life.

But let's assume that a certain percentage of wolves will be able to live to retirement. Can they rely on social protection or are they immediately kicked out of the pack?

To answer this question, just remember what a wolf packis.

This is not a gathering of random passersby who decided to hang out together. It's a family. A separate social unit, where public interests are always placed above personal ones. Where one for all and all for one.

Will you kick elderly relatives out of your family? So wolves don't suffer from such nonsense. They will take care of the elderly until the last moment.

Obviously, the retired wolf does not take part in the hunt. Your health doesn't allow it.

But, like a true grandfather, he can sit with his granddaughters at home. And the good fellows who have returned from hunting will feed both the kids and the elderly.

This is what utopia would look like in a wolf world. In reality, everything is quite different.

Pensioners in the wolf pack, in fact, can only be parents, they are the oldest by age.

Do children have to take care of their ancestors? Of course you should! But there is one problem here.

If the head of the family is incapacitated, how can the pack hunt without a leader? Who will make the important decisions?

Probably, because it is so "accepted among wolves" that parents do not live to a great old age, but die earlier. And young people go on a free swim and create their own families. This is how the cycle of wolves occurs in nature…