The largest of the Mustelinae, Gulo, is a holarctic genus specialized for feeding on larger vertebrate prey (Pasitschniak-Arts and Larivière 1995). The wolverine has no exact counterpart in the tropics (Eisenberg 1981). Gulo is descended from Plesiogulo, a large Miocene and Pliocene form (Kurtén and Anderson 1980). The genus Plesiogulo originated in Asia and migrated to North America between 7.0 and 6.5 million years ago, where two species have been identified. (Harrison 1981). Plesiogulo was apparently derived from marten-like ancestors originating from an early Miocene member of the genus Martes (Kurtén 1968).
Wolverines from the Old and New Worlds were formerly considered to be separate species (Cowan 1930, Miller 1912); however, Kurtén and Rausch (1959) found the two populations to be only subspecifically distinct. Bryant (1987) examined Gulo gulo from the Pleistocene and concluded that any division of Gulo into two species was arbitrary. Studies of Quaternary remains indicate evolutionary progression within a single species, with differences among populations not being substantial enough to warrant separation into two distinct species (Bryant 1987, Pasitschniak-Arts and Larivière 1995).
Palaeolithic Cave Art
Bryant, H. N. 1987. Wolverine from the Pleistocene of the Yukon: evolutionary trends and taxonomy of Gulo (Carnivora: Mustelidae). Can. Jour. of Earth Sci. 24: 654-663.
Cowan, I. 1930. Notes on some mammals in the British Columbia. Can. Field-Nat, 44: 207.
Eisenberg, J. F. 1981. The mammalian radiations: an analysis of trends in evolution, adaptation, and behavior. The Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 610 pp.
Harrison, J. A. 1981. A review of the extinct wolverine, Plesiogulo (Carnivora: Mustelidae), from North America. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington. 27 pp.
Pasitschniak-Arts, M., and S. Larivière. 1995. Gulo gulo, Mammalian Species. Amer. Soc. of Mammalogists, 499: 1-10.
Kurtén, B., and R. Rausch. 1959. A comparison between Alaskan and Fennoscandian wolverine (Gulo gulo Linnaeus). Acta Arctica, 11: 5-20.
Kurtén, B. 1968. Pleistocene mammals of Europe. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London. 317 pp.
Kurtén, B., and E. Anderson. 1980. Pleistocene mammals of North America. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. 442 pp.
Miller, G. S. Jr. 1912. Mammals of western Europe. Johnson Reprint Corporation, New York: 1019 pp.
Palaeolithic cave art literature cited:
Powers, R. & C. B. Stringer. 1975. Palaeolithic cave art fauna. Studies in Speleology 2: 266-298.