I’ve been wanting to dive into the topic of the Gray Wolf for some time now, and I’m starting by reading Barry Lopez’s Of Wolves and Men. It is an excellently researched and thorough book on the history of the relationship between man and wolf. I want to be up front: this post is mostly a representation of what I’ve learned from the book, not necessarily a formal review, but my hope is that you’ll learn, too, and be encouraged to pick up the book to seek more.
Recently I had to put together a display about the family Canidae and thought I’d share some of the very cool things I discovered with you all. Being a big dog lover myself, I’m forever fascinated with this family, which is in the Order Carnivora (from the Latin for “to devour flesh”), which also includes cats (Felidae), bears (Ursidae), and a smattering of other righteously cool predators.
The words “canid,” “canidae,” and “canine” all have roots in the word “canis,” which is Latin for “dog.” Also, “caninus,” meaning “of the dog.” The word “canine” refers to “pointed tooth.” (I heart etymonline.com!)
Yellowstone wolf pack in 2001. Via National Park Service.
So I’m cheating here by only giving a smidge of the article and not bothering to interpret it, so I’ll give you the link here, and leave you with this mind-blowing snippet.
As it turns out, wolves are critical for water. And, as any ecologist with half a brain will tell you, removing a predator is not as simple as “no more predator.” There are effects all the way down the line – no wolves means no beavers means no macroinvertebrates, etc. Doesn’t make sense? Then please, for the love of all things holy in this world, read the rest of this article and educate yourself.