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Friday, January 28, 2011

Know Your Mascot - The Wolverine

Today's guest post comes from Friend of the MZone, Mikoyan, proprietor of the photography-theme blog, Michigan Exposures.

The Michigan mascot is the wolverine.  The wolverine's scientific name is gulo gulo which is Latin for glutton.    They are also sometimes called glutton, carcajou, skunk bear, quickhatch or gulon.  It is the largest animal of the mustelid family (weasels).

It is a stocky and muscular animal more closely resembling a bear than it's mustelid cousins.  In one Native American legend, it created the Earth.

Wolverines don't really run, they have a more loping gape.  While that may not look very efficient, it is well suited to the snowy climates they generally inhabit.  They are actually pretty fast for an animal of their size.

They have a pretty fierce reputation.  And they are built to live up to that reputation.  Their jaws are strong enough to chew through bones.  Their claws are pretty large for an animal of their size.  They have been known to either defend their prey from predators much larger from them or steal prey from larger predators.  In the book, "The Wolverine Way", the other mentions a story of a wolverine chasing a bear away from a kill and to paraphrase the author, that's pretty bad ass.  They are also known to take down prey much larger than them.

Male wolverines typically mate with 2 or 3 female wolverines and according to the book, "The Wolverine Way", they will play an active part in raising the young up until about 10 weeks old.  Sometimes, the young will reconnect with their fathers later.   Wolverine offspring are called kits and will reach adult size within a year.  A wolverine lifespan is typically 5 to 13 years.  They have pretty thick oily fur which is resistant to frost and this makes it popular.

Wolverines have a pretty well developed sense of smell and can smell carcasses under avalanches.  The wolverine will eat just about anything.

Michigan is known as the "Wolverine State" even though a wolverine hasn't lived in the state for close to 200 years up until one appeared in the Thumb.  A group of soldiers that fought with Custer was known as the "Wolverines".  The origin of the name for the state and later the team is unknown.  There are several theories for this.  One stems from the amount of fur trading that occurred in the state, some of which was wolverine pelts.  Another states that the name was given during the Michigan-Ohio War.  It is either the folks from Michigan bragging about thier fierce fighting or the Ohioans calling them gluttons.  We are not sure.

Live wolverines had a short lived appearance at games.  Fielding Yost wanted one after he saw Wisconsin carrying around a badger.  He was able to get a stuffed one in 1924.  In 1927, ten wolverines were obtained from Alaska and placed in the Detroit Zoo.  Two of these wolverines were brought to the games. Unfortunately, these wolverines grew larger and in the words of Yost, "It was obvious that the Michigan mascots had designs on the Michigan men toting them, and those designs were by no means friendly."  So the practice was stopped after one year.  One wolverine was kept at the University of Michigan Zoo for a while.


TitleIX said...

Nice job Mik!!

Just a few additions:
An actual Wolverine has never been to space, was not created by the Land Grant Act, and, has never been arrested.....

Mikoyan said...

I forgot to mention a couple more things when I sent the e-mail for this post. Wolverines in the United States are in the Glacier Mountain National Park and Alaska. The typical range of a wolverine is 240 square miles. They sometimes get up to 70 pounds. They also apparently are pretty adept climbers. In the book they mention one of the wolverines climbing the tallest mountain in the park and using a route that billy goats wouldn't even attempt.

srudoff said...

You had me at weasel. You had me at weasel.

TitleIX said...

I am thinking we need a caption contest for that third picture of Mikoyan's....
You know, the one where the Wolverine is licking its chops?

Mikoyan said...

I've done a caption for it on my blog....

Ramona said...

Excellent recap Mik, LOL srudoff!

James said...

The first photo is my favorite. A very majestic pose. But they're all awesome.

I like the animal's alternate name of "quickhatch." That's a new one to me.

Steve said...

Pound for pound one bad ass.