In this example, plural form expresses "all in general". This is a focus commonly found in everyday speech, books, articles, and magazines. (With a few nouns, the plural noun is the same as the singular noun [e.g., fish, deer, and elk]. Use the singular form.)
Wolves hunt in packs.
Trappers hunt wolves for their fur.
Dogs are descended from wolves.
Wolves are the ancestors of dogs.
Deer feed primarily on leaves.
(singular and plural noun form is the same)
The before the singular noun form ("the wolf") expresses the class (type, or kind). This usage is mostly found in science books, encyclopedias and scholarly publications for discussing the quality, character of behavior of an entire classification.
The wolf (Canis Lupus) hunts in a pack.
Trappers hunt the wolf for its fur.
The dog is descended from the wolf.
The wolf is the ancestor of the dog.
The deer is a ruminant mammal.
be descended from – be related to a group that lived a long time ago
ruminant mammal — able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach before digestion, principally through microbial actions.
unspecific and indefinite — Wolves hunt in packs. (True for all wolves.) / A wolf hunts in a packt. (True for any wolf.) / The wolf hunts in a pack. (True of the class of animal.) [science]
specific but indefinite — A wolf killed a deer (a wolf but we're not sure which one.)
specific and definite — The wolf that killed the deer also killed our chickens. (We know which one did it.)
Also see "all" with count and noncount nouns All–count / noncount.
EXAMPLE: Why does the wolf howl? (the class) ⇒ Why do wolves howl? (all)
EXAMPLE: Why do wolves howl? (all) ⇒ Why does the wolf howl? (the class)
|THE — SPECIFIC & IDENTIFIED|
We can discuss a topic using the before a noun, referring to a specific, identified item.
The chair on the right is Assyrian.
|PLURAL —ALL IN GENERAL|
Or we can discuss a topic using the plural noun form, referring to all such items in general (true for all).
Chairs were a luxury item in ancient times.
Also see Plural / The-definite.
The history of the furniture reflects the history of the culture. Relatively little is known about the furniture of the ancient societies, simply because the furniture was usually made of the perishable materials -- wood and sometimes fabric -- that have not survived. Our limited knowledge of the Egyptian, the Greek, and the Roman furniture is based mostly on the paintings and the sculptures.
The only actual surviving pieces of the furniture of these cultures are from the burials. For example, King Tut's tomb in Egypt contained the display of elegantly decorated royal furniture. About the only surviving example of everyday Roman furniture are from the two cities near Naples that were buried under the tons of volcanic ash from the eruption of the Mt. Vesuvius on August 24, 79 A.D.
ancient (Adj) — very old
bury (buried) — placed underground
decorate (V) — make something look more attractive, beautiful
elegantly (adv.) — in a beautiful, attractive, graceful manner
fabric (N) — cloth
is based on — comes from, has as its foundation
perishable (Adj) — can decay, age, spoil easily
reflect (V) — show, be a sign of a particular situation or feeling
society (N) — a particular large group of people who share laws, organizations, customs
survive (V) — to continue to exist after a long time
tomb (N) — a stone structure above or below the ground where a dead person is buried
"Ancient furniture." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 18 Jun. 2016, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_furniture. Accessed on 24 Aug. 2014.
"Wolves and Dogs: Fact and Fiction." Wild Wolves. NOVA, 2000, pbs.org/wgbh/nova/wolves/wolfdog.html.
"History of the Dog." Wisdom Panel. Mars Veterinary. 2012, wisdompanel.com/breed_count_matters/history_of_the_dog.
Deer grazing. Pixabay, by Xanio, 18 June 2012. pixabay.com/en/deer-animals-mammals-grazing-grass-113535.
Deer in river eating greenery. Pexels.com, n.d., www.pexels.com/photo/nature-animal-river-deer-4099. Licensed under CC0.
"Flora y Fauna." Quo Vadis, Fotolibre, 6 Jan. 2007, www.fotolibre.org/displayimage.php?pid=2452. Public Domain.
gray, wolf. Foxes and Wolves, by Brooks Tracy, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, public_domain_images.com. Licensed under CC0.
Greek furniture. Wikimedia, by Mnemosine, 9 Dec. 2009, it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Greek_furniture_004.jpg. Public Domain.
Siberian Husky. Wikimedia. 5 June 2005, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Siberian_Husky#/media/File:Siberian_Husky_red_Flickr.jpg. Licensed under CC 2.0.
Wolf on alert. Wikimedia Commons, by Mariomassone, 27 June 2012. commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wolf_on_alert.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 3.0.