In many ways wolves are like dogs and lions; yet wolves have a
bad reputation. Dogs are our "best friends", when a dog owner
returns home at the end of the day, there's a joyous bark, a
wagging tail, and a greeting fit fo a long-lost friend! But all
dogs in the world are descended from wolves that were domesticated
more than ten thousand years ago. And most of the things that people
like about dogs are true about wolves!
Wolves may look very different from each other. A wolf might be
almost any color, from white to black, through shades and mixtures
of cream, gray, red and brown. Some wolves may be heavily furred
all over their bodies; others may have more fur around their necks
and backs. Some wolves are large and powerful; while others are
smaller and quicker. Wolves even have different personalities! Some
are leaders, while others are very social, and still others are
"lone wolves". In many types of mammalian society, the leader is
usually a female. In the wolves' world, the male is the leader.
Most wolves belong to the same species, called Canis Lupus (canis
means dog and lupus means wolf), and the closest relatives are the
domestic dog, the coyote, the jackal, and a dog of Australia called
a dingo. There are many subspecies which include: tundra (or artic)
wolves, gray (or timber)wolves. They all have location names as well:
the Mexican wolf, the Rocky Mountain wolf, the Eastern timber wolf,
the Texas gray wolf, the Great Plains wolf. There are Hybrids (mixtures)
such as wolf-dogs or wolf-coyote which are really not wolves at all.
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