Under Construction May 2011


Canis lupus


Length: maximum 150mm (Mayer 1952), 60-100, mane hair 120-150 (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969), 100-145mm on back, 72-100mm on sides, 24-96mm on the underside (Kennedy 1982), 40-60mm long can be 100+ (Furskin European wolf 2006), 45-60mm (ASM #1), 125mm max (ASM #3 shoulder), tail guard hair and underfur seem almost the same length 70-75mm(ASM #3), center of back 135mm, tip of tail 95-100mm, between paw pads 35 mm, top of paw 20mm, middle of forehead 25-30mm, edge of stomach 100mm (ASM #4) 

Diameter Range: Ave 156- 228 microns (Brown 1942), up to 168 (Mayer 1952), 35-100 microns (Furskin European wolf 2006), 125-150 (ASM #1), 135 microns center back, 100 microns tip of tail, 82-105 microns in between paw pads, 85 microns on top of paw, 95 microns in middle of forehead, 100 microns on edge of stomach (ASM #4)

Medullary Index: 0.69 ave. (Brown 1942) 0.52-0.85 (ASM #1) 0.45 to 0.8 (ASM #4)

Medulla: Usually more than four “courses” of cells across the medulla at the maximum diameter.  Cells of medulla separated by pigment masses (Brown 1942). 65-100 microns, medulla is continuous, air filled and shows no diagnostic features, just one big solid tube? (ASM #1).  An unusual observation on the guard hairs in between the paw pads, almost no medulla at all.  Only interrupted in some areas of certain hairs  (ASM #4).

Color: Dark band near tip max 22mm, and the light area near tip up to 36mm 150mm (Mayer 1952). Brown-red coloration close to the medulla in the cortex (ASM#1).  Cortical fusi on some samples (ASM #4).  On the paw pads, many guard hairs have no medulla at all (ASM #4).  Medulla can sometimes be so dark with pigment the edge of the medulla is not even visible.  Tail guard hairs in one sample had a lot of elongated black specks in the cortex, cortical fusi? (ASM #4) Base white, tip black, in the middle a black band above a white band.  Mane hairs are mostly black but have a light band in the middle-base area (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969).

Scales: Same pattern from samples all over the body: widely spaced pointed petal-shaped scales with smooth edges near the bottom, becoming closely spaced mosaic-tile shaped scales with edges like torn paper near the tip. 


Length: 12-20 mm (Furskin European wolf 2006), 25-40mm (ASM #1), 75-80mm (ASM #3 shoulder) tail guard hair and underfur seem almost the same length 70-75mm (ASM #3) 

Diameter Range: 28-100 microns  (Brown 1942), only 10-25 microns for the European wolf (Furskin 2006), 22.5 microns ( ASM#1), 15-35 microns on various parts of the body (ASM #4)

Medullary Index: 0.48 ave. (Brown 1942) 0.55 (ASM #1)

Medulla: 12.5 microns, Uniserial ladder (ASM #1)  May be interrupted on some of the smaller underfur hairs (ASM #4)

Color: absent in cortex but present in medulla? (forgot source) No color present in cortex or medulla (ASM #1).

Scales: From mounted sample appear to be coronal but with long tips, almost petal like, 25 microns from tip to tip (ASM #1).

Macro Qualities: 4.9 – 6.7 feet long.  Mane is half moon shaped, rather than the wedge shape of the coyote. Also, the guard hair is longer than the coyote, so the fur stands up bushier.  Good-to-fair “serviceability” according to Bachrach (1953).  Skin can be up to 180cm in North American wolves.  Legs are beige, reddish.  Tail very fluffy and not shiny at all. (ASM #3) Secondary guard hairs slightly wavy, esp. near the base. (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969)  Underfur is blue-gray.  Wolves in arctic areas can be white? (Furskin 2006)  Example of white wolf pelt in Juneau tourist shop.  Adorjan and Kolenosky (1969) describe the underfur as “usually found in tufts” 

Cultures: For example: Yup’ik upriver hunters Fienup-Riordan (2007) Yuungnaqpiallerput: The Way We Genuinely Live.  Masterworks of Yup’ik Science and Survival.  Anchorage Museum Association.  p.245

Notes: ASM #1 is from the educational collection pelt ring.  ASM #2 is from the conservation lab slide set labeled “Grey wolf”.  ASM #3 is from a taxidermy wolf at off-site museum storage. ASM #4 is a wolf pelt from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The Alexander Archipelago Wolf (canis lupus ligoni) is a subspecies of the gray or timber wolf that mainly lives on islands of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.  About 3.5 feet long and 30-50lbs, the taxonomist Edward A Golden said their fur is shorter, darker, and coarser than other wolves.  Also mentioned in MacDonald and Cook 2009. 

Troubleshooting: To distinguish from raccoon on a banded hair, the white area right before the dark tip ought to be less than 11mm long.  If it is longer than 11 mm, then the entire length of the hair shaft ought to be more than 65mm to insure it is not raccoon (Mayer 1952).  Mayer suggests that coyote guard hair might be shorter with a smaller white area near the tip.  A wolf is generally much larger than a coyote.  Measuring a sample, it seemed that the wolf had a black tip of 120mm and a white areas 15-20mm long, but coyote had 180mm dark tip and 4mm white band.  Another source suggests that perhaps the coyote might have wavy primary and secondary guard hair, but the wolf only has secondary guard hair wavy near the base? (Adorjan and Kolenosky 1969).  Wolf seems to have longer underfur hairs than other canids.

Range: All of Alaska (Forsyth 1999).  Throughout mainland Alaska, Unimak Island in the Aleutians, and all the major islands of Southeast except Admiralty, Chichagof and Baranof.  In modern times, the highest density is in Southeast Alaska  (ADF&G 2008).

Names: Order Carnivora (the carnivores) Family Canidae (the canids) Timber wolf, gray wolf (Forsyth 1999).  Four subspecies were once thought to occur in Alaska, but now only two subspecies are recognized here (ADF&G 2008).  Timber wolf is sometimes known as Canis tundarum, aka “arctic wolf” but once called “brush wolf” (Bachrach 1953) The Alexander Archipelago Wolf (canis lupus ligoni) is a subspecies of the gray or timber wolf that mainly lives on islands of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. 

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