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"A man might befriend a wolf, even break a wolf, but no man could truly tame a wolf."
~ A Dance with Dragons, George R.R. Martin, 2011
Should you think that the Dire Wolf is merely a fictional conceit of the Game of Thrones novels, think again! Canis dirus roamed North America during the last ice age, co-existing with the Saber-Toothed Tigers (Smilodon fatalis)! These big-boned wolves were larger than today's wolves and could weigh up to 175 lbs! Their diet consisted mainly of hooved mammals and occasionally, giant camels, mastodons, bison, and giant sloths! Today's wolves, though slightly smaller, are believed to be more intelligent and survived their Dire cousins, who died out approximately 10,000 years ago. In order to survive, wolves form cooperative packs and hunt together, rear pups together, and compete against other wolf packs for food and territory. Modern wolf howling is one of the most distinctive and well-studied animal vocalizations. Wolves howl as a form of long-distance communication, conveying a range of information. Because of the high pitch and the suspension of notes, the sounds of wolf howls can carry as far as 6 miles in the forest and even 10 miles across the treeless tundra. Ahwooooooooo! 🐺
The Timber Wolf, also known as the Grey Wolf, ranges in color from grizzled grey or black to all-white. As the ancestor of the domestic dog, the grey wolf most resembles German shepherds or malamutes.
Grey wolves were once common throughout all of North America. Today, their range is limited to Canada, Alaska, the Great Lakes, northern Rockies and the Pacific Northwest. Thanks to the reintroduction of wolves in 1995, Yellowstone National Park is one of the most favored places to see and hear wolves in their native habitat.
This tartan, by designer Carol A.L. Martin, was inspired by the sound of " timber wolves howling while hiking in the Canadian Rockies."
Many ancient civilizations paired wolves with the moon in both images and literature, a coupling which eventually evolved into today's popular belief that wolves howl at the moon. While experts have found no connection between the phases of the moon and wolf howling, pointing their faces upwards while howling allows wolves to project their calls farther.
Today, wolf howling is one of the most distinctive and well-studied animal vocalizations. Wolves howl as a form of long-distance communication, conveying a range of information. Because of the high pitch and the suspension of notes, the sounds of wolf howls can carry as far as 6 miles in the forest and even 10 miles across the treeless tundra.
In general, the primary reasons why wolves howl include:
A rally cry for the pack to meet up
A signal to let the pack know of a wolf's location
A warning for outside wolves to stay out of a pack's territory
Since howls bear coding for a wolf's body size and health (with the larger animals exhibiting deeper tones), males can signal their status to females through these vocalizations.
Whether the moon is full or not, click the wolf pair for an amazing site on wolf communication.