Natural History

North America’s Top 10 Most Fearsome Predators

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Gray Wolf
Robert Pickett/Visuals Unlimited/Corbis

Gray Wolf

Approximately the size of a German shepherd dog, the gray wolf has been feared, despised and even (sometimes) respected throughout human history.

Although the term "lone wolf" is not completely incorrect, the vast majority of wolves are highly social creatures, and travel in groups.

The basic community unit is the wolf pack, and the basic family unit is the mated pair, along with that pair's adult offspring. Yes, the kids generally stay at home just like human young adult kids seem to do these days.

With an incredible sense of smell, wolves will sniff out their prey from considerable distance, point their eyes, ears and nose towards their target, do a little ceremonial tail wagging with other pack members ... then head out to hunt.

Working in groups, they stalk, encounter and chase their prey ... cutting off escape routes and confusing the target. With the smaller, faster animals, a wolf will try to catch the intended victim before it reaches top speed.

A lack of world-class speed (animal world, that is) makes their coordinated attacks all the more vital.

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