Fascinating Facts About Awesome Animals: Wolves!

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gray wolf



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Magnificent Mammals Animals and their Habitats 

     World Book Online Encyclopedia



Fascinating Fact #1: Most wolves belong to one species!


Wolves (canis lupus), coyotes (canis latrans), and domestic dogs (canis familiaris) are closely-related species. All three can interbreed and produce viable, fertile offspring — wolfdogs, coywolves, and coydogs.

Through DNA analysis, scientists have established that the wolf is the ancestor of the dog. Dogs and wolves are so closely related that DNA analysis cannot distinguish a wolf from a dog or a wolfdog hybrid. Coyotes, however can be distinguished from wolves and dogs through DNA analysis. 


Most wolves belong to a species called the gray wolf. Two local names for gray wolves are the timber wolf and the tundra wolf. The timber wolf lives in wooded, subarctic regions. Some tundra wolves are also called Arctic wolves and are white. They make their homes on the treeless plains of the Arctic. Some zoologists believe that there is a separate species of wolf called the red wolf. This animal once lived throughout the southern United States. Today, however, only a few hundred red wolves remain, most of them in captivity.


The fur of a wolf varies in color from pure white in the Arctic to jet black in the subarctic forests. Most wolves have gray fur. Wolves of the northern and Arctic regions grow long, thick winter coats that protect them from the bitter cold.


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