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A wolf's guide to common theriotypes
nihilo
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Therio-Type: Eurasian tundra wolf, demonic entity, dragon
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Post: #1
A wolf's guide to common theriotypes
I'll probably write a proper intro for this at some point, but I'm too lazy right now.

Until then: this is literally just an information hoard where you can find out facts about some of the most commonly claimed theriotypes (along with hopefully some rarer ones later on). I'll try to get one new factsheet done each week. These are very in-depth and take me a long time to research and write.

Got any comments/suggestions/corrections? Message me!

Please refrain from commenting on this thread. Just for the sake of keeping it tidy. c:

Completed factsheets
- Grey wolf, Canis lupus

*Disclaimer: all images used here belong to their respective owners.
(This post was last modified: 2015-07-17 13:41 by nihilo.)
2015-07-17 13:34
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Post: #2
RE: A wolf's guide to common theriotypes
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Grey wolf
Canis lupus

The grey wolf is the largest species of wild canid and was once the most widespread terrestrial mammal, ranging across North America from Mexico to the Arctic, as well as most of Eurasia - though their range is now greatly reduced. They are adaptable and intelligent predators capable of hunting a wide variety of prey, from rodents to large undulates. Most wolves live in 'packs' - family units which usually consist of 5 to 12 related individuals, and are lead by a dominant male and female.

Wolves can thrive in many different habitats, including forests, mountain ranges, plains, deserts, tundra and even the vast, snowy expanse of the Arctic. Though their range is not as expansive as it used to be, it still covers large areas of North America and Greenland, northern Scandinavia and almost the entirety of Asia, from northern Russia to India. They exist in smaller populations throughout western Europe.
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Social
Wolves have very complex social bonds and many methods of communication, which allows them to work together when hunting and raising young. Most wolves live in packs, ranging in size from only a few individuals to over 40, depending on the location and prey availability. The smallest packs consist of only a breeding pair and their offspring; larger packs can also include extended family, including aunts, uncles, siblings, and even adopted, unrelated individuals.

Most packs are lead by two dominant wolves that act as parents for the whole pack - they typically consist of a male and female breeding pair, and are often the biological parents of most, if not all, of the members of the pack. They are responsible for deciding where the dens are made, coordinating hunts and disciplining the other wolves in the pack, among other things. During times of hardship, the dominant pair is also the only pair allowed to breed and they will enforce this aggressively.

Wolves communicate with each other via a complex array of vocalisations - barks, whimpers and growls, for example - as well as through body language and scent. Probably the most well known lupine vocalisation is the howl, which is used for long-distance communication between pack mates. Defensive howls can be territorial, and rally the pack together to defend against intruders; social howls are used to locate other wolves, and also possibly just for fun. A bark is used to alert pack mates to an external threat, such as a large predator. Growls are typically used as a warning in wolf-to-wolf conflicts.

Wolves use scent to mark their territory, allowing communication between wolves of different packs without direct contact and confrontation. When two packs meet, they will almost always fight. However, a pack's reaction to a lone wolf varies depending on the leaders' temperaments - it's rare that a pack will kill a lone wolf unprovoked, and occasionally such wolves are even allowed to join the pack, though they are usually chased off.

Wolves show affection through social grooming, muzzle licking, cuddling and playful nipping. They are curious and playful animals, and may pester others to play through pawing and play bowing, in a similar way to domestic dogs.
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Sensory
Wolves have an acute sense of both smell and hearing, as well as keen eyesight. Wolves can hear sounds at a range of six to ten miles depending on the terrain, and can detect frequencies imperceptible to human ears. Each ear can turn individually, which means they can better hone in on a particular sound. Wolves also cock their heads at unfamiliar sounds for the same reason.

Wolves' sense of smell is roughly a hundred times better than a human's; they can likely smell prey from over a mile away, and identify individual wolves on scent alone. A wolf's sense of smell is vital to inter-pack communication, and also allows a wolf to gauge the state of its target prey, being able to tell whether a target is ill or dying based on the smell it leaves behind.

Their eyesight is mainly focused on picking up the slightest movements even at a distance, aiding them in locating prey. However, their vision is not designed to pick up details, so while a wolf can see movement at a very long distance, it may struggle to identify what is moving - their vision is similar to near-sightedness in humans. Wolves have exceptional night vision due to the high amount of rod cells in their eyes (which are good at detecting light, but not colour) and their larger pupils. Wolves, like dogs, can see the colours blue and yellow, but not red or green - similar to deuteranopia (red-green colour blindness) in humans.
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Dietary
Wolves are almost exclusively predatory, feeding on a wide variety of prey animals including rodents, deer, bison, game birds, domesticated livestock, reptiles, fish, and even other wolves. They also occasionally supplement their diet with plant matter, such as berries and the half-digested plant material in their preys' stomachs.

Lone wolves and couples can take down game up to the size of a small deer on their own, planning their attack carefully and ambushing their prey in a location that prevents it using its faster running speed to escape. When hunting in packs to take down larger prey, wolves will often trail their target herd for days, watching for weakness and waiting until their presence causes their desired prey to panic, then targeting any individual who falters or falls behind.

Wolves are too small to deal a single killing blow, so instead attack savagely, inflicting as many small wounds as possible then waiting for their prey to die of blood loss, muscle damage or shock; they often eat their prey while it is still alive. They hunt only for their own survival - hunting is a huge risk for a wolf to take, as their prey is often larger and stronger than any individual wolf, and a well-aimed kick from a large deer is enough to incapacitate or even kill a wolf outright.

Not all wolves that tag along for a hunt actively participate. Inexperienced pups will often watch from the sidelines, observing the others and learning from them.
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Subspecies
There are many distinct subspecies of Canis lupus, populating many different areas and adapted to survive in the particular habitat they call home; the size, appearance, diet and even behaviour varies greatly between different subspecies.

North American wolves typically have smaller ears and shorter muzzles than their Eurasian cousins, and are also more timid and fearful towards humans. Their coats are most commonly in tones of grey. Eurasian subspecies are more slender, with narrower heads and larger ears; their coats are coarser than those of American wolves, with more pronounced manes, and are usually brownish, reddish or tawny in colour.

The wolves of arid southern Asian countries are smaller, longer-legged and scrawnier than northern wolves. They tend to live in pairs or small groups of up to four individuals, similar to coyotes, and only form packs to take down larger prey. These wolves tend to be less afraid of humans, and are more likely to attack, though they are less aggressive in general. It is from these subspecies that domestic dogs are believed to be descended.
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Old world wolves

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Eurasian wolf, Canis lupus lupus - also known as the common wolf and forest wolf, Eurasian wolves have the largest range of any subspecies, inhabiting eastern Europe, Scandinavia and much of Russia. The size of Eurasian wolves varies greatly: European wolves tend to be smaller and leaner on average; wolves of Russia and Scandinavia are larger and more heavily built. Eurasian wolves live in moderately-sized packs, and prey mainly on elk, red deer and boar. Their howls are more melodious than those of North American wolves.

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Eurasian tundra wolf, Canis lupus albus - one of the largest subspecies of wolf, tundra wolves can reach up to two metres (7 feet) long including the tail, and also tend to be longer-lived than most subspecies with a captive lifespan of around 16 years. They live in small packs, usually numbering 4 to 6 individuals, in the northern boreal forests and tundra of Russia and eastern Scandinavia. They prey primarily on deer species, such as red deer, reindeer and elk, as well as European bison and musk oxen.

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Tibetan wolf, Canis lupus chanco - the Tibetan wolf, also known as the wooly wolf or Chinese wolf, is a relatively small, short-legged subspecies that ranges from Turkestan to Mongolia. Like most southern Asian subspecies, Tibetan wolves don't form true packs; they live and hunt in pairs, or occasionally groups of up to four individuals. They feed primarily on small mammals, such as hares, as well as Tibetan gazelle and sheep. Some scientists speculate that Tibetan wolves could be the ancestors of domestic dogs, due to their small size and the shape of the jaw.

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Steppe wolf, Canis lupus campestris - also called the Caspian Sea wolf, the Steppe wolf is average in size, though somewhat smaller than the Eurasian wolf, and is native to the Caspian steppes. They live in small packs but may hunt individually when prey is scarce, and feed mainly on herd animals, rodents and fish. They are typically rusty grey, brownish or blackish in colour, with short, coarse fur. These wolves have been hunted for years as pests, and are now critically endangered.

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Indian wolf, Canis lupus pallipes / Canis indica - it is currently under debate whether the Indian wolf is a subspecies of Canis lupus or its own species, Canis indica. Indian wolves are one of the smallest types of wolf, averaging about 3 feet in length, with short, coarse fur that remains long on their backs throughout the year to protect their skin from solar radiation. They feed mainly small undulates, hares and rodents. Their packs are small and loose, similar to coyotes. They are typically less territorial than other wolves and rarely howl. They are found throughout the Middle East, with scattered populations in India.

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Italian wolf, Canis lupus italicus - an endangered subspecies, Italian wolves are also known as Apennine wolves, and are of average size, with narrow heads and long muzzles. They feed primarily on small to medium-sized mammals, such as wild boar, roe deer, red deer and chamois. Their packs are small, usually numbering between two and seven individuals. These wolves are native to the Italian Peninsula, and currently inhabit the mountainous areas of the Apennines and western Alps.

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Iberian wolf, Canis lupus signatus - Iberian wolves are average in size and tend to be lighter-built than Eurasian wolves, with dark, reddish-brown fur; they usually have clear white markings on their lips and dark marks on the tail and legs. These wolves live in relatively small packs and are valued for their control over populations of wild boar, though they also prey on various deer species, and domesticated animals such as sheep and dogs. Their range spans the forests and plains of northern Portugal and northwest Spain.

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Arabian wolf - Canis lupus arabs - a small, lightly-built and long-legged desert wolf, Arabian wolves live and hunt in pairs or small groups of up to four wolves, occasionally forming loose packs of up to twelve individuals to take down larger prey. They usually feed on hares, rodents and ungulates, and will also prey upon domesticated livestock. These wolves once populated the entire Arabian Peninsula, but are now found only in small pockets throughout their historical range.

"Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you."
~wtnv
(This post was last modified: 2015-07-17 18:08 by nihilo.)
2015-07-17 16:02
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nihilo
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Post: #3
RE: A wolf's guide to common theriotypes
New world wolves

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Arctic wolf, Canis lupus arctos - a medium-sized wolf distinguishable by its pale or white colouration, small ears and short muzzle, the Arctic wolf is one of the few wolf subspecies to still inhabit the entirety of its historical range, having never been seriously hunted due to the low amount of human settlements in its natural habitat. These wolves live in small packs of up to six individuals, and feed primarily on small mammals, caribou and musk ox. Arctic wolf packs maintain huge territories, sometimes over a 1,000 square miles, due to the low prey density.

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Mexican wolf, Canis lupus baileyi - Mexican wolves are the smallest and most endangered of North America's wolves, with less than 150 animals left in the wild. They typically have narrower skulls and larger ears than other North American wolves, with yellowish- or brownish-grey fur and dark markings along their backs. They live in small packs and hunt small to mid-sized undulates, and also prey upon small mammals such as rabbits and rodents.

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Vancouver island wolf, Canis lupus crassodon - this species of wolf is rarely seen by humans, being both endangered and extremely shy; however, among other wolves, they are highly social animals and often live in packs of over 30 individuals. Vancouver island wolves are a medium-sized subspecies with fur of greyish brown, though they are occasionally seen in pure white. These wolves mainly feed on black-tailed deer and elk, along with small mammals, domestic dogs and human refuse where it is available.

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Hudson bay wolf, Canis lupus hudsonicus - similar in appearance to a small Mackenzie Valley wolf or a broader-skulled Arctic wolf, Hudson bay wolves are a medium-sized northern subspecies with white or creamish fur. Though it has not been officially evaluated, this subspecies is commonly thought to be endangered. They live in moderately-sized packs and prey primarily on caribou, moose and bison, along with smaller animals and carrion when food is scarce.

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Northern rocky mountain wolf, Canis lupus irremotus - one of the largest wolf subspecies, these wolves feed primarily on large undulates such as elk and bison, but are opportunistic and can hunt a wide variety of animals when their preferred prey is scarce, including other wolves. This subspecies can be distinguished from other similar types by their lighter colouring and narrower forehead.

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Labrador wolf, Canis lupus labradorius - this elusive subspecies is one of the least studied in the world. These wolves are physically similar to the eastern timber wolf but tend to be larger, and range in colour from dark grey to almost white; these wolves still inhabit almost all of their historical range, in Labrador and northern Quebec, but are rarely seen due to the vast and difficult terrain they live in. Their usual prey is caribou, but they also hunt moose, musk ox, and smaller mammals such as beavers and hares.

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Alexander archipelago wolf, Canis lupus ligoni - this small "island wolf" rarely exceeds 3 and a half feet in length, and is almost exclusively black or darkly-coloured. They inhabit almost the entirety of southeast Alaska, and have been known to swim between different islands. Individuals from different islands tend to have different colour phases, with some being black and white, some pure black and some brown. They feed mainly on black-tailed deer, but will also prey on salmon, other undulates and small mammals.

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Eastern wolf, Canis lupus lycaon - also known as the Great Lakes wolf, Algonquin wolf and deer wolf, it is still under debate whether these wolves are a grey wolf subspecies, their own unique species (Canis lycaon), or the result of wolf-coyote hybridisation. They are typically intermediate in size between coyotes and northwestern wolves, with greyish-brown or rufous fur. Melanism is extremely rare among this subspecies. Eastern wolves prey mostly on white-tailed deer and beaver.

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Great plains wolf, Canis lupus nubilus - one of the most widely spread subspecies of grey wolf in North America, these wolves are medium-sized and vary in colour from creamish-white to black, though they are usually pale or brownish grey. They inhabit both mixed and boreal forests, and open tundra in the northern parts of their range. These wolves live in modest packs usually consisting of 5 or 6 individuals; common prey includes white-tailed deer, moose, hares and rodents. Great plains wolves often interbreed with other wolf subspecies, red wolves and coywolves.

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Northwestern wolf, Canis lupus occidentalis, also known as the Mackenzie valley wolf, northern timber wolf or Canadian timber wolf, the northwestern wolf is one of the largest and most widespread subspecies of grey wolf in North America. They can measure up to 7 feet in length including the tail. These wolves live in relatively large packs, most having between 6 and 12 wolves but some numbering up to 30. They prey on a variety of large undulates, including many deer species, as well as hares, rodents and salmon. Compared to the Eurasian wolf, northwestern wolves are more robust, with a larger head, thicker muzzle, and smaller ears.
(This post was last modified: 2015-07-17 18:10 by nihilo.)
2015-07-17 17:08
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nihilo
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Post: #4
RE: A wolf's guide to common theriotypes
[Image: KNqHUqi.jpg]

Yukon wolf, Canis lupus pambasileus - these large, dark-coloured wolves are found throughout the Alaskan interior and Yukon, and are possibly the largest subspecies of grey wolf in North America. Their coats consist of a mix of black, brown, grey and white where they are not completely black; proportionally, these wolves tend to have larger skulls and teeth than northwestern wolves. Average pack size for this subspecies is between 7 and 9 individuals. Moose is their preferred prey item, followed by caribou and sheep.

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Alaskan tundra wolf, Canis lupus tundrarum - also known as the barren-ground wolf, these wolves closely resemble the Yukon wolf but are paler in colour, often being completely white; they are native to the barren grounds of northern Alaska and Canada. They are a large subspecies, though smaller than both Yukon wolves and their Eurasian counterpart, the Eurasian tundra wolf. They are also physically similar to the great plains wolf, and share some similarities with the northwestern wolf. They usually feed on large undulates, such as deer, but will eat small mammals and vegetation when prey is scarce.
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Other subspecies

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Domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris - the domestic dog is believed to have been living among and coexisting with humans for over 20,000 years, and was the first animal ever to be domesticated. Modern domestic dogs are most likely descended from dingo-like animals, which in turn are believed to be domesticated from the small, scrawny wolves of southern Asia. Domestic dogs' brains are 30% smaller than those of wolves; research suggests these animals remain in a puppy-like state of mind throughout their lives. Dogs have an instinctual understanding of human body language that has been shown to be absent in wild wolves. They are incredibly varied in size, shape, colour and temperament, due mainly to selective breeding by humans.

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Dingo, Canis lupus dingo - believed to be the direct descendants of the first wolves domesticated by humans, these animals are incredibly adaptable, found throughout the world in a variety of different habitats that most other wolves would find inhospitable, from the heart of the Australian outback to the tropical forests of New Guinea. Dingos exist in a variety of diverse landraces, including the Australian dingo, New Guinea singing dog and Carolina dog. Unlike wolves, dingoes thrive equally in the wild and as pets; even wild-born dingo pups can be taken in and raised as dogs. Dingoes are often kept as pets in both Australia and the United States (though in the US people often don't realise their "German shepherd cross" is actually a dingo). Dingoes kept as pets tend to be independent and aloof; dingoes in the wild live in pairs or loose packs and hunt a wide variety of animals.
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Further reading
- Living with Wolves
- International Wolf Center
- Defenders of Wildlife: Grey Wolf
- Arkive: Grey Wolf
- Wolves of the World

"Death is only the end if you assume the story is about you."
~wtnv
2015-07-17 18:11
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