The lion is a species in the family Felidae. The lion is sexually dimorphic. Male lions have a prominent mane, the most recognisable feature of the species. A lion pride consists of related females and cubs. Groups of female lions hunt together, preying on large ungulates; the species is an keystone predator, although they scavenge when opportunities occur. Some lions have been known to hunt humans, although the species does not; the lion inhabits grasslands and savannas but is absent in dense forests. It is more diurnal than other big cats, but when persecuted it adapts to being active at night and at twilight. In the Pleistocene, the lion ranged throughout Eurasia and North America but today it has been reduced to fragmented populations in Sub-Saharan Africa and one critically endangered population in western India, it has been listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 1996 because populations in African countries have declined by about 43% since the early 1990s. Lion populations are untenable outside designated protected areas.
Although the cause of the decline is not understood, habitat loss and conflicts with humans are the greatest causes for concern. One of the most recognised animal symbols in human culture, the lion has been extensively depicted in sculptures and paintings, on national flags, in contemporary films and literature. Lions have been kept in menageries since the time of the Roman Empire and have been a key species sought for exhibition in zoological gardens across the world since the late 18th century. Cultural depictions of lions were prominent in the Upper Paleolithic period; the lion's name, similar in many Romance languages, is derived from Latin: leo and Ancient Greek: λέων. The word lavi may be related. Felis leo was the scientific name used by Carl Linnaeus in 1758, who described the lion in his work Systema Naturae; the genus name Panthera was coined by German naturalist Lorenz Oken in 1816. Between the mid-18th and mid-20th centuries, 26 lion specimens were described and proposed as subspecies, of which 11 were recognised as valid in 2005.
They were distinguished on the basis of appearance and colour of mane. Because these characteristics show much variation between individuals, most of these forms were not true subspecies because they were based upon museum material with "striking, but abnormal" morphological characteristics. Based on the morphology of 58 lion skulls in three European museums, the subspecies krugeri, nubica and senegalensis were assessed distinct but bleyenberghi overlapped with senegalensis and krugeri; the Asiatic lion persica was the most distinctive and the Cape lion had characteristics allying it more with persica than the other sub-Saharan lions. The lion's closest relatives are the other species of the genus Panthera. Results of phylogenetic studies published in 2006 and 2009 indicate that the jaguar and the lion belong to one sister group that diverged about 2.06 million years ago. Results of studies published in 2010 and 2011 indicate that the leopard and the lion belong to the same sister group, which diverged between 1.95 and 3.10 million years ago.
Hybridisation between lion and snow leopard ancestors, may have continued until about 2.1 million years ago. In the 19th and 20th centuries, several lion type specimens were described and proposed as subspecies, with about a dozen recognised as valid taxa until 2017. Between 2008 and 2016, IUCN Red List assessors used only two subspecific names: P. l. leo for African lion populations and P. l. persica for the Asiatic lion population. In 2017, the Cat Classification Task Force of the Cat Specialist Group revised lion taxonomy, recognises two subspecies based on results of several phylogeographic studies on lion evolution, namely: P. l. leo − the nominate lion subspecies includes the Asiatic lion, the regionally extinct Barbary lion, lion populations in West and northern parts of Central Africa. Synonyms include P. l. persica, P. l. senegalensis, P. l. kamptzi, P. l. azandica. Some authors referred to it as'Northern lion' and'northern subspecies'. P. l. melanochaita − includes the extinct Cape lion and lion populations in East and Southern African regions.
Synonyms include P. l. somaliensis, P. l. massaica, P. l. sabakiensis, P. l. bleyenberghi, P. l. roosevelti, P. l. nyanzae, P. l. hollisteri, P. l. krugeri, P. l. vernayi, P. l. webbiensis. It has been referred to as'southern subspecies'. Early phylogenetic research was focused on East and Southern African lions, showed they can be divided in two main clades. Lions in eastern Kenya are genetically much closer to lions in Southern Africa than to lions in Aberdare National Park in western Kenya. In a subsequent study and bone samples of 32 lion specimens in museums were used. Results indicated lions form
North American river otter
The North American river otter known as the northern river otter or the common otter, is a semiaquatic mammal endemic to the North American continent found in and along its waterways and coasts. An adult North American river otter can weigh between 14 kg; the river otter is insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. The North American river otter, a member of the subfamily Lutrinae in the weasel family, is versatile in the water and on land, it establishes a burrow close to the water's edge in river, swamp, coastal shoreline, tidal flat, or estuary ecosystems. The den has many tunnel openings, one of which allows the otter to enter and exit the body of water. Female North American river otters give birth in these underground burrows, producing litters of one to six young. North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the most accessible species. Fish is a favored food among the otters, but they consume various amphibians, freshwater clams, snails, small turtles and crayfish.
The most common fish consumed are perch and catfish. Instances of North American river otters eating small mammals, such as mice and squirrels, birds have been reported as well. There have been some reports of river otters attacking and drowning dogs; the range of the North American river otter has been reduced by habitat loss, beginning with the European colonization of North America. In some regions, their population is controlled to allow the trapping and harvesting of otters for their pelts. North American river otters are susceptible to the effects of environmental pollution, a factor in the continued decline of their numbers. A number of reintroduction projects have been initiated to help halt the reduction in the overall population; the North American river otter was first described by German naturalist Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber in 1777. The mammal was identified as a species of otter and has a variety of common names, including North American river otter, northern river otter, common otter and river otter.
Other documented common names are American otter, Canada otter, Canadian otter, fish otter, land otter, nearctic river otter, Prince of Wales otter. The North American river otter was first classified in the genus Lutra; the species name was Lutra canadensis. The species epithet canadensis means "of Canada". In a new classification, the species is called Lontra canadensis, where the genus Lontra includes all the New World river otters. Molecular biological techniques have been used to determine when the river otter and the giant otter of South America diverged; these analyses suggest they diverged in the Miocene epoch 23.03 to 5.33 million years ago, "much earlier" than indicated in the fossil record. Fossils of a giant river otter dating back 3.5 Mya have been found in the US Midwest. The earliest known fossil of Lontra canadensis, found in the US Midwest, is from the Irvingtonian stage; the oldest fossil record of an Old World river otter comes from the late Pliocene epoch. The New World river otters originated from the Old World river otters after a migration across the Bering Land Bridge, which existed off and on between 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago.
The otters migrated to North America and southwards again across the Panamanian Land Bridge, which formed 3 Mya. Listed alphabetically L. c. canadensis – L. c. kodiacensis – L. c. lataxina – L. c. mira – L. c. pacifica – L. c. periclyzomae – L. c. sonora – The North American river otter is a stocky animal of 5 to 14 kilograms, with short legs, a muscular neck no smaller than the head, an elongated body, broadest at the hips. They have long bodies, long whiskers that are used to detect prey in dark waters. An average adult male weighs about 11.3 kilograms against the female's average of 8.3 kilograms. Its body length ranges from 66 to 107 centimetres. About one-third of the animal's total length consists of a long, tapered tail. Tail lengths range from 30 to 50 centimetres. Large male North American river otters can exceed a weight of 15 kilograms, it differs from the European otter by its longer neck, narrower visage, the smaller space between the ears and its shorter tail. A broad muzzle is found on the North American river otter's flat head, the ears are round and inconspicuous.
The rhinarium is bare, with an triangular projection. Eyes placed anteriorly. A short, broad rostrum for exhaling and a long, broad cranium define the flat skull; the North American river otter's nostrils and ears close during submersion, keeping water from entering them. Its vibrissae are thick, enhancing sensory perception underwater and on land; the fur of the species is short, with a density of about 57,800 hairs/cm2 in the midback section. The pelage varies from light brown to black; the throat and lips are grayer than the rest of the body. Fur of senescent river otters may become white-tipped, rare albinos may
The scarlet ibis is a species of ibis in the bird family Threskiornithidae. It inhabits islands of the Caribbean. In form it resembles most of the other twenty-seven extant species of ibis, but its remarkably brilliant scarlet coloration makes it unmistakable, it is one of the two national birds of Tobago. This medium-sized wader is a hardy and prolific bird, it has protected status around the world, its IUCN status is Least Concern. The legitimacy of Eudocimus ruber as a biological classification, however, is in dispute. Traditional Linnaean taxonomy classifies it as a unique species, but some scientists have moved to reclassify it as a subspecies of a more general American ibis species, along with its close relative, the American white ibis; the species was first classified by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Given the binomial nomenclature of Scolopax rubra, the species was designated Guara rubra and Eudocimus ruber. Biologically the scarlet ibis is closely related to the American white ibis and is sometimes considered conspecific with it, leaving modern science divided over their taxonomy.
The two birds each have the same bones, beaks, feather arrangements and other features – their one marked difference lies in their pigmentation. Traditional taxonomy has regarded the two as distinct. Early ornithological field research revealed no natural crossbreeding among the red and white, lending support to the two-species viewpoint. More recent observation, has documented significant crossbreeding and hybridization in the wild. Researchers Cristina Ramo and Benjamin Busto found evidence of interbreeding in a population where the ranges of the scarlet and white ibises overlap along the coast and in the Llanos in Colombia and Venezuela, they observed individuals of the two species mating and pairing, as well as hybrid ibises with pale orange plumage, or white plumage with occasional orange feathers, have proposed that these birds be classified as a single species. Hybridization has been known to occur in captivity. However, the two color forms persist in the wild despite overlapping ranges and hybrid offspring having a distinctive color type, so according to the cohesion species concept they would be functionally different species.
Some biologists now wish to pair them with Eudocimus albus as two subspecies of the same American ibis. Others define both of them as one and the same species, with ruber being a color variation of albus. Adult plumage is all scarlet; the feathers may show various tints and shades, but only the tips of their wings deviate from their namesake color. A small but reliable marking, these wingtips are a rich inky black and are found only on the longest primaries – otherwise the birds' coloration is "a vivid orange-red luminous in quality." Scarlet ibises have red bills and feet however the bill is sometimes blackish toward the end. They have a long, decurved bill, their legs and neck are long and extended in flight. A juvenile scarlet ibis is a mix of grey and white; as it grows, a heavy diet of red crustaceans produces the scarlet coloration. The color change begins with the juvenile's second moult, around the time it begins to fly: the change starts on the back and spreads across the body while increasing in intensity over a period of about two years.
The scarlet ibis is the only shorebird with red coloration in the world. Adults are 55–63 centimetres long, the males larger than females weigh about 1.4 kilograms. Their bills are on average around 22% longer than those of females; the life span of the scarlet ibis is sixteen years in the wild and twenty years in captivity. An adult scarlet ibis has a wingspan of around 54 centimetres. Though it spends most of its time on foot or wading through water, the bird is a strong flyer: they are migratory and capable of long-distance flight, they move as flocks in a classic V formation. The range of the scarlet ibis is large, colonies are found throughout vast areas of South America and the Caribbean islands. Native flocks exist in Brazil. Flocks gather in wetlands and other marshy habitats, including mud flats and rainforest. There is an outlying colony in the Santos-Cubatão mangroves of Baixada Santista district in southeastern Brazil, considered critically endangered; the highest concentrations are found in the Llanos region between western Venezuela and eastern Colombia.
The fertile and remote tropical grassland plain of the Llanos provides a safe haven far from human encroachment. Together with its relative the bare-faced ibis, the scarlet ibis is remarkably prolific and conspicuous in the region. Scarlet ibis vagrants have been identified in Belize and Panama; the species may well have been a natural vagrant to the Gulf Coast in the 19th century or earlier – in The Birds of America, John James Audubon made brief remarks regarding three rubra specimens he encountered in Louisiana. However all modern occurrences of the species in North America have been introduced or escaped birds. In one notable example from 1962, scarlet ibis eggs were placed in white ibis nests in Florida's Greynolds Park, the resulting population hybridised producing "pink ibises" that are still seen. Mating pairs build nests in a simple style
The orangutans are three extant species of great apes native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Orangutans are only found in the rainforests of Borneo and Sumatra. Classified in the genus Pongo, orangutans were considered to be one species. From 1996, they were divided into two species: the Sumatran orangutan. In November 2017 it was reported. Genomic comparisons show that the Tapanuli orangutan separated from the Sumatran orangutan about 3.4 million years ago. The Tapanuli orangutan separated from the Bornean orangutan much about 670,000 years ago; the orangutans are the only surviving species of the subfamily Ponginae, which included several other species, such as the three extinct species of the genus Gigantopithecus, including the largest known primate, Gigantopithecus blacki. The ancestors of the Ponginae split from the main ape line in Africa 16 to 19 million years ago and spread into Asia. Orangutans spend most of their time in trees, their hair is reddish-brown, instead of the black hair typical of chimpanzees and gorillas.
Males and females differ in appearance. Dominant adult males have distinctive cheek pads and produce long calls that attract females and intimidate rivals. Younger males do not resemble adult females. Orangutans are the most solitary of the great apes, with social bonds occurring between mothers and their dependent offspring, who stay together for the first two years. Fruit is the most important component of an orangutan's diet, they can live over 30 years in both the captivity. Orangutans are among the most intelligent primates; the apes have been extensively studied for their learning abilities. There may be distinctive cultures within populations. Field studies of the apes were pioneered by primatologist Birutė Galdikas. All three orangutan species are considered to be critically endangered. Human activities have caused severe declines in ranges. Threats to wild orangutan populations include poaching, habitat destruction as a result of palm oil cultivation, the illegal pet trade. Several conservation and rehabilitation organisations are dedicated to the survival of orangutans in the wild.
The name "orangutan" is derived from the Malay and Indonesian words orang meaning "person" and hutan meaning "forest", thus "person of the forest". The Malay words used to refer to the ape are maias and mawas, but it is unclear if those words refer to just orangutans, or to all apes in general; the first attestation of the word orangutan to name the Asian ape is in Dutch physician Jacobus Bontius' 1631 Historiae naturalis et medicae Indiae orientalis – he reported that Malays had informed him the ape was able to talk, but preferred not to "lest he be compelled to labour". The word appeared in several German-language descriptions of Indonesian zoology in the 17th century; the origin of the word comes from the Banjarese variety of Malay. Cribb et al. suggest that Bontius' account referred not to apes but rather to humans suffering some serious medical condition and that his use of the word was misunderstood by Nicolaes Tulp, the first to use the term in a publication. The word was first attested in English in 1691 in the form orang-outang, variants with -ng instead of -n as in the Malay original are found in many languages.
This spelling has remained in use in English up to the present, but has come to be regarded as incorrect. The loss of "h" in Utan and the shift from n to -ng has been taken to suggest that the term entered English through Portuguese. In 1869, British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, co-creator of modern evolutionary theory, published his account of Malaysia's wildlife: The Malay Archipelago: The Land of the Orang-Utan and the Bird of Paradise; the name of the genus, comes from a 16th-century account by Andrew Battel, an English sailor held prisoner by the Portuguese in Angola, which describes two anthropoid "monsters" named Pongo and Engeco. He is now believed to have been describing gorillas, but in the 18th century, the terms orangutan and pongo were used for all great apes. Lacépède used the term Pongo for the genus following the German botanist Friedrich von Wurmb who sent a skeleton from the Indies to Europe. Battel's "Pongo", in turn, is from the Kongo word mpongi or other cognates from the region: Lumbu pungu, Vili mpungu, or Yombi yimpungu.
The three orangutan species are the only extant members of the subfamily Ponginae. This subfamily included the extinct genera Lufengpithecus, which lived in southern China and Thailand 2–8 mya, Sivapithecus, which lived India and Pakistan from 12.5 mya until 8.5 mya. These apes lived in drier and cooler environments than orangutans do today. Khoratpithecus piriyai, which lived in Thailand 5–7 mya, is believed to have been the closest known relative of the orangutans; the largest known primate, was a member of Ponginae and lived in China and Vietnam from 5 mya to 100,000 years ago. Within apes, the gibbons diverged during the early Miocene and the orangutans split from the African great ape lineage betwe
Grey crowned crane
The grey crowned crane is a bird in the crane family, Gruidae. It is found in eastern and southern Africa, is the national bird of Uganda; the grey crowned crane is related to the black crowned crane, the two species have sometimes been treated as the same species. The two are separable on the basis of genetic evidence, calls and bare parts, all authorities treat them as different species today. There are two subspecies; the East African B. r. gibbericeps occurs in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Uganda, of which it is the national bird represented in its national flag, Kenya to eastern South Africa. It has a larger area of bare red facial skin above the white patch than the smaller nominate species, B. r. regulorum, which breeds from Angola south to South Africa. The grey crowned crane is about 1 m tall, weighs 3.5 kg, has a wingspan of 2 m. Its body plumage is grey; the wings are predominantly white, but contain feathers with a range of colours, with a distinctive black patch at the top.
The head has a crown of stiff golden feathers. The sides of the face are white, there is a bright red inflatable throat pouch; the bill is short and grey, the legs are black. They have long legs for wading through the grasses; the feet are slender, adapted for balance rather than defence or grasping. The sexes are similar, although males tend to be larger. Young birds are greyer than adults, with a feathered buff face; this species and the black-crowned crane are the only cranes that can roost in trees, because of a long hind toe that can grasp branches. This trait is assumed to be an ancestral trait among the cranes, lost in the other subfamily. Crowned cranes lack a coiled trachea and have loose plumage compared to the other cranes, it occurs in dry savannah in Africa south of the Sahara, although it nests in somewhat wetter habitats. They can be found in marshes, cultivated lands and grassy flatlands near rivers and lakes in Uganda and Kenya and as far south as South Africa; this animal does not have set migration patterns, birds nearer the tropics are sedentary.
Birds in more arid areas Namibia, make localised seasonal movements during drier periods. The grey crowned crane has a breeding display involving dancing and jumping, it has a booming call. It makes a honking sound quite different from the trumpeting of other crane species. Both sexes dance, immature birds join the adults. Dancing is an integral part of courtship, but may be done at any time of the year. Flocks of 30-150 birds are not uncommon; these cranes are omnivores, eating plants, grain, frogs, snakes, small fish and the eggs of aquatic animals. Stamping their feet as they walk, they flush out insects which are caught and eaten; the birds associate with grazing herbivores, benefiting from the ability to grab prey items disturbed by antelopes and gazelles. They spend their entire day looking for food. At night, the crowned crane resting. Grey crowned cranes time their breeding season around the rains, although the effect varies geographically. In East Africa the species breeds year-round, but most during the drier periods, whereas in Southern Africa the breeding season is timed to coincide with the rains.
During the breeding season, pairs of cranes construct a large nest. The grey crowned crane lays a clutch of 2-5 glossy, dirty-white eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 28–31 days. Chicks are precocial, can run as soon as they hatch, fledge in 56–100 days. Although the grey crowned crane remains common over some of its range, it faces threats to its habitat due to drainage and pesticide pollution, their global population is estimated to be between 77,000 individuals. In 2012 it was uplisted from vulnerable to endangered by the IUCN; the grey crowned crane is the national bird of Uganda and features in the country's flag and coat of arms. Species text in The Atlas of Southern African Birds Grey crowned crane
Interstate 70 is a major east–west Interstate Highway in the United States that runs from I-15 near Cove Fort, Utah, to I-695 near Baltimore, Maryland. I-70 traces the path of U. S. Route 40 east of the Rocky Mountains. West of the Rockies, the route of I-70 was derived from multiple sources; the Interstate runs through or near many major cities, including Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbus and Baltimore; the sections of the interstate in Missouri and Kansas have laid claim to be the first interstate in the United States. The Federal Highway Administration has claimed the section of I-70 through Glenwood Canyon, completed in 1992, was the last piece of the Interstate Highway system, as planned, to open to traffic; the construction of I-70 in Colorado and Utah is considered an engineering marvel, as the route passes through the Eisenhower Tunnel, Glenwood Canyon, the San Rafael Swell. The Eisenhower Tunnel is the highest point along the Interstate Highway system, with an elevation of 11,158 ft. Interstate 70 begins at an interchange with Interstate 15 near Cove Fort.
Heading east, I-70 crosses between the Tushar and Pahvant ranges via Clear Creek Canyon and descends into the Sevier Valley, where I-70 serves Richfield, the only town of more than a few hundred people along I-70's path in Utah. Upon leaving the valley near Salina, I-70 crosses the 7,923 ft Salina Summit and crosses a massive geologic formation called the San Rafael Swell. Prior to the construction of I-70, the swell was inaccessible via paved roads and undiscovered. Once this 108 mi section was opened to traffic in 1970, it became the longest stretch of interstate highway with no services and the first highway in the U. S. built over a new route since the Alaska Highway. It became the longest piece of interstate highway to be opened at one time. Although opened in 1970, this section was not formally complete until 1990, when a second steel arch bridge spanning Eagle Canyon was opened to traffic. Since I-70's construction, the swell has been noted for its desolate beauty; the swell has since been nominated for National Park or National Monument status on multiple occasions.
If the swell is granted this status, it arguably would be the first time a National Park owes its existence to an interstate highway. Most of the exits in this span are rest areas, brake check areas, runaway truck ramps with few traditional freeway exits. I-70 exits the swell near Green River. From Green River to the Colorado state line, I-70 follows the southern edge of the Book Cliffs. Entering from Utah, I-70 descends into the Grand Valley, where it meets the Colorado River, which provides its path up the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. Here I-70 serves the Grand Junction metro area before traversing more mountainous terrain; the last section of I-70 to be completed was the 15-mile Glenwood Canyon. This stretch was completed in 1992 and was an engineering marvel, due to the difficult terrain and narrow space in the canyon, which requires corners that are sharper than normal Interstate standards. Construction was delayed for many years due to environmental concerns; the difficulties in building the road in the canyon were compounded by the fact the Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad occupied the south bank, many temporary construction projects took place to keep US 6 open, at the time the only east–west road in the area.
Much of the highway is elevated above the Colorado River. The speed limit in this section is due to the limited sight distance and sharp corners; the Eisenhower–Johnson Memorial Tunnel, the highest vehicular tunnel in North America and the longest tunnel built under the Interstate program, passes through the Continental Divide. Because of the rugged and narrow terrain of the Rocky Mountains, I-70 is one of few roads connecting Colorado's ski resorts with Denver. Descending through the eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains, one can see the Denver skyline on a clear day; this can fool truckers and other unsuspecting drivers, because one must still traverse 10 miles of steep grade road before reaching the city. A series of signs warns truckers of the steep grade; as I-70 leaves the foothills, it goes through Denver and intersects Interstate 25, serving as the central east-west artery through the city. Leaving Denver, I-70 levels out and traverses the wide plains through eastern Colorado. East of Denver, I-70 makes a broad turn to the south-southeast for 30 miles before reaching Limon and resuming its eastward journey toward Kansas.
Coming from Colorado, I-70 enters the prairie and rolling hills of Kansas. This portion of I-70 was the first segment to start being paved and to be completed in the Interstate Highway System, it is given the nickname "Main Street of Kansas", as the interstate extends from the western border to the eastern border of the state, covering 424 miles and passing through most of the state's principal cities in the process. In Salina, I-70 intersects with I-135, the longest "spur" route in the Interstate system, forming the latter's northern terminus. In Topeka, I-70 intersects I-470, twice. At the eastern intersection, the Kansas Turnpike merges, with I-70 becoming a toll road; this is one of only two sections of I-70. I-70 carries this designation from Topeka to the eastern terminus of the turnpike. About halfway between Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas, I-70 passes through Lawrence; the tolled portion of the turnpike ends near Bonner Springs, just west of Kansas City. There is a third child route in Topeka, I-335, which runs from I-470 south to meet up wit
The coyote, Canis latrans, is a canine native to North America. It is smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf, smaller than the related eastern wolf and red wolf, it fills much of the same ecological niche as the golden jackal does in Eurasia, though it is larger and more predatory, is sometimes called the American jackal by zoologists. The coyote is listed as least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to its wide distribution and abundance throughout North America, southwards through Mexico, into Central America; the species is able to adapt to and expand into environments modified by humans. It is enlarging its range, with coyotes moving into urban areas in the Eastern U. S. and was sighted in eastern Panama for the first time in 2013. As of 2005, 19 coyote subspecies are recognized; the average male weighs the average female 7 to 18 kg. Their fur color is predominantly light gray and red or fulvous interspersed with black and white, though it varies somewhat with geography.
It is flexible in social organization, living either in a family unit or in loosely knit packs of unrelated individuals. It has a varied diet consisting of animal meat, including deer, hares, birds, amphibians and invertebrates, though it may eat fruits and vegetables on occasion, its characteristic vocalization is a howl made by solitary individuals. Humans are the coyote's greatest threat, followed by gray wolves. In spite of this, coyotes sometimes mate with gray, eastern, or red wolves, producing "coywolf" hybrids. In the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, the eastern coyote is the result of various historical and recent matings with various types of wolves. Genetic studies show that most North American wolves contain some level of coyote DNA; the coyote is a prominent character in Native American folklore in the Southwestern United States and Mexico depicted as a trickster that alternately assumes the form of an actual coyote or a man. As with other trickster figures, the coyote uses deception and humor to rebel against social conventions.
The animal was respected in Mesoamerican cosmology as a symbol of military might. After the European colonization of the Americas, it was reviled in Anglo-American culture as a cowardly and untrustworthy animal. Unlike wolves, which have undergone an improvement of their public image, attitudes towards the coyote remain negative. Coyote males average 8 to 20 kg in weight, while females average 7 to 18 kg, though size varies geographically. Northern subspecies, which average 18 kg, tend to grow larger than the southern subspecies of Mexico, which average 11.5 kg. Body length ranges on average from 1.0 to 1.35 m, tail length 40 cm, with females being shorter in both body length and height. The largest coyote on record was a male killed near Afton, Wyoming, on November 19, 1937, which measured 1.5 m from nose to tail, weighed 34 kg. Scent glands are a bluish-black color; the color and texture of the coyote's fur varies somewhat geographically. The hair's predominant color is light gray and red or fulvous, interspersed around the body with black and white.
Coyotes living at high elevations tend to have more black and gray shades than their desert-dwelling counterparts, which are more fulvous or whitish-gray. The coyote's fur consists of soft underfur and long, coarse guard hairs; the fur of northern subspecies is longer and denser than in southern forms, with the fur of some Mexican and Central American forms being hispid. Adult coyotes have a sable coat color, dark neonatal coat color, bushy tail with an active supracaudal gland, a white facial mask. Albinism is rare in coyotes; the coyote is smaller than the gray wolf, but has longer ears and a larger braincase, as well as a thinner frame and muzzle. The scent glands are the same color, its fur color variation is much less varied than that of a wolf. The coyote carries its tail downwards when running or walking, rather than horizontally as the wolf does. Coyote tracks can be distinguished from those of dogs by less rounded shape. Unlike dogs, the upper canines of coyotes extend past the mental foramina.
At the time of the European colonization of the Americas, coyotes were confined to open plains and arid regions of the western half of the continent. In early post-Columbian historical records, distinguishing between coyotes and wolves is difficult. One record from 1750 in Kaskaskia, written by a local priest, noted that the "wolves" encountered there were smaller and less daring than European wolves. Another account from the early 1800s in Edwards County mentioned wolves howling at night, though these were coyotes; this species was encountered several times during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, though it was well known to European traders on the upper Missouri. Lewis, writing on 5 May 1805, in northeastern Montana, described the coyote in these terms: The small woolf or burrowing dog of the prairies are the inhabitants invariably of the open plains.