The gray wolf, or timber wolf, is currently one of the largest living carnivores in North America. This animal migrated to North America during the middle-to-late Pleistocene, and it became one of the most widely distributed land mammals in the late Pleistocene (Kurtén and Anderson 1980; Mech 1966, 1970). A recent ancient DNA study (Leonard et al. 2007) has identified genetic differences between the late Pleistocene gray wolves that roamed the continental U.S., including the Midwest, and those that lived in Alaska and northwestern Canada (i.e., eastern Beringia). The Leonard et al. study documented morphological differences between the two groups as well, and determined that the eastern Beringian population was more highly specialized than the main population of North American gray wolves during the Pleistocene. This study also determined that the eastern Beringian population went extinct during the terminal Pleistocene and that modern North American gray wolves are descended from the more generalized population that lived throughout most of North America during the Pleistocene. Unlike the dire wolf, the gray wolf survived the climatic and environmental changes of the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, and this animal continued to enjoy a wide distribution through most of the Holocene. The increase in human population during historical times, however, led to the extirpation of this wolf from most of the U.S. Currently, the gray wolf is found across most of Canada, with patchy distribution in the U.S. along the northern Great Lakes and portions of the Rocky Mountains.
Carnivora (Dogs, Cats, Bears, etc.)
Canidae (Dogs and wolves)
Length: 1-1.5 m (3.3-4.9 feet)
Weight: 20-80 kg (44.1-176.4lbs)