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In early post-Columbian historical records, distinguishing between coyotes and wolves is often difficult.
Its characteristic vocalization is a howl made by solitary individuals.This is further corroborated by the coyote's sagittal crest, which is low or totally flattened, thus indicating a weaker bite than the wolf's.The coyote is not a specialized carnivore as the wolf is, as shown by the larger chewing surfaces on the molars, reflecting the species' relative dependence on vegetable matter.The animal was especially 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.The coyote's fur consists of short, 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 almost hispid (bristly).
The first published usage of the word "coyote" (which is a Spanish borrowing of its Nahuatl name coyōtl) comes from the historian Francisco Javier Clavijero's Historia de México in 1780.
The first time it was used in English occurred in William Bullock's Six months' residence and travels in Mexico (1824), where it is variously transcribed as cayjotte and cocyotie.
In the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, the eastern coyote (a larger subspecies, though still smaller than wolves) 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, mainly in the Southwestern United States and Mexico, usually depicted as a trickster that alternately assumes the form of an actual coyote or a man.