The Shape-shifters, also called werewolves, are descended from the ancient Spirit Warriors of the Quileute tribe. Back then, warriors and chiefs could leave their bodies and wander as spirits, blow fierce winds, communicate with animals, and hear each other's thoughts.
The legend goes that one spirit warrior, Utlapa, wanted to use this power to enslave neighboring tribes, the Hohs and the Makahs. Unwilling to use the warriors' powers for such monstrous purposes, his chief, Taha Aki banished him from the tribe. One day, the chief left his body in a hiding place to sweep through the valley in his spirit form, searching the area for anything that may pose a threat to the tribe. Utlapa followed him and possessed his body, then cut his own body's throat to prevent Taha Aki's return. The chief wandered for a while in spirit form, watching the thief do unspeakable things on his people. One day, the chief's spirit found a large, beautiful wolf in the woods. Though jealous of the wolf's physical form, an idea came to him. He asked the wolf to share his body for him, and the wolf agreed. Rushing back to the village as the wolf, he met a party of warriors, and he tried to make himself known by yelping Quileute songs. One of the warriors, an elderly man named Yut, realized that the wolf was under a spirit's control, and, disobeying the usurper Utlapa's orders not to enter the spirit world, left his body to talk to the beast. The false chief, alarmed at Yut entering the spirit world as he feared that his treachery would be revealed, killed the warrior. Taka Aki became enraged, and lunged forward intending to kill the man; his emotions were too much for the wolf, and it transformed into a magnificent human, the glorious flesh interpretation of Taha Aki's flawless spirit. The false chief was killed, and things were rapidly set right. Taha Aki sired many children, and found out that his sons, at the age of manhood, could transform into wolves as well.
That is how the wolves came to be. The whole pack is made of the great-grandchildren (to however many degrees) of that original wolf, Taha Aki. Thus far only one woman, Leah Clearwater, is known to have become a shape-shifter.
AppearanceEditShape-shifters' appearance vary in both human and wolf form. This is a list of what every shape-shifter looks like in their wolf form:
- Sam Uley: Sam is the wolf that scares Laurent away from Bella Swan in New Moon, and is described as enormous, jet black, as tall as a horse, but thicker and much more muscular, with dagger-like incisors, and a grisly snarl like a prolonged crack of thunder. It is even mistaken for a "bear".
- Jacob Black: As a wolf, Jacob grows to be bigger than Sam Uley, and has deep rusty-brown fur. In Eclipse, his fur becomes shaggier than the other wolves' due to the fact that he allow his hair to grow to chin-length. When the wolves rescue Bella from Laurent, she realizes that the russet wolf has Jacob's familiar, black-brown eyes.
- Paul Lahote: Paul isn't as big as Sam or Jacob, and has dark silver fur.
- Jared Cameron: Jared is around the same size as Paul, with brown fur.
- Quil Ateara V: Quil is described as being chocolate-brown, lighter over the face.
- Embry Call: Embry is slim and sleek, with pale gray, black-spotted fur.
- Leah Clearwater: The only female member of the pack, Leah is much smaller than the males with light gray fur.
- Seth Clearwater: Seth is tall and gangly with oversized paws, and has sand-colored fur.
- Brady Fuller: Confirmed to have dark, ashy brown fur that almost appears gray.
- Collin Littlesea: Confirmed to have reddish brown fur, with a darker color on his legs, face and tail.
The appearances of the seven other wolves that join the pack at the end of Breaking Dawn are not specified.
Each wolf's distinctive color and characteristics correlates with each wolf's true self. Quil Ateara and Sam Uley joke with one another that Sam's black fur is due to his "black heart" while Quil's chocolate-brown fur reflects how "sweet" he is. No real explanation of this phenomenon is given; none, perhaps, should be sought for - variability is the one fundamental of living beings.
Active shape-shifters crop their hair short, as the length of their hair correlates with the length of their fur.
The "monstrous size" of these creatures is emphasized repeatedly. This links clearly with the actual changes in the boys as well, which Bella notes, although she doesn’t connect the two phenomenons until later. She describes the shape-shifters as "four really big half-naked boys." As humans, they are between 6'0" and 7'0" tall, and after phasing become bigger, more muscular, and harder in look and substance. Their voices also deepen considerably.
The wolves become similar in their human forms, partly due to their appearances (hard-muscled bodies, unusual height and cropped hair) and the synchronization of their movements, so that they could be mistaken for biological siblings.
Abilities and limitationsEdit
SpeedEditQuileute werewolves reach great speed, up to a hundred miles per hour, which often allows them to outrun motor vehicles. According to Jacob, it is better and faster than a motorcycle, and that is "the best part" of being a wolf. The comparison with the vampires' speed is quite clear, Bella herself notes that riding on Edward's back as he runs is "a hundred times better than on the motorcycle."
Even in his human form, Jacob is faster and has greater endurance than all normal humans: "Then I turned and sprinted through the parking lot, across the road, and into the bordering forest. He flitted into the trees, swift and sleek as a deer." (Jacob Black, Breaking Dawn).
The wolves caught Laurent, showing that they are as fast as or faster than some vampires; however, they were unable to catch Victoria, who is exceptionally fast for a vampire and also gifted with escaping. Bella says: "I couldn't imagine the wolves running faster than a vampire. When the Cullens ran, they all but turned invisible with speed." This may have to do with the werewolves being quadrupeds (using four feet to run) as opposed to bipedal vampires. It seems that speed is their real weapon, along with the exchange of thoughts within the pack that makes them able to coordinate when they hunt.
Their reflexes are highly developed: "With stunning speed, Jacob yanked a can opener from the counter and launched it at Jared's head. Jared's hand flicked up faster than I would have thought possible, and he snagged the tool just before it hit his face." Also in Eclipse, at the Quileute bonfire, Paul harassed Jacob into giving him his hot dog. When Jacob flung it across the circle, Paul caught it easily before it landed in the sand.
Leah and Jacob are the fastest members of the pack, closely followed by Embry. In Breaking Dawn Seth was able to catch up to Jacob when he fled the pack, suggesting that he is amongst the fastest wolves.
In human form, their strength is almost superhuman, and in wolf form it is at its peak and nearly equivalent to that of a vampire. A full pack can overpower and kill any vampire, and, as seen in Eclipse, is a formidable force when dealing with an army of newborns. Bella notes that Jake handles her "too roughly", and that, when he hugs her, it's so "crushing" that it nearly suffocates her. He doesn't seem as aware of his strength as the vampires, but this could be due to the newness of his phasing.
Discussing being a wolf with Bella in New Moon, Jacob explains, "It's what we're made for, Bells. We're strong, too," showing that the wolves are linked by both strength and ferocity.
Werewolves have a body temperature of about 108°F. Bella feels it first on the way home from the movies in New Moon, when she believes Jacob has got a fever. Vampires' temperatures are lower than humans'; it is possible that the wolves' and vampires' physiological differences reflect the tension between the two species.
This high temperature allows the wolves to withstand very cold weather and makes it difficult for them to become overheated. It also makes it very difficult for vampires to harm them in combat, due to vampires being extremely sensitive to high temperatures. After Bella becomes a vampire, she describes Jacob's skin as like "touching an open fire" and "unbearable to the touch".
The wolves can heal and regenerate very fast and completely. While not immortal, these capabilities allow the wolves to continue battling even after serious injury. In some cases, however, this accelerated healing can be detrimental. After Jacob's bones were crushed by a newborn in Eclipse, his skeleton healed before Carlisle could set his bones, forcing Carlisle to break a number of them to make them to heal properly. In Breaking Dawn, Jacob comments that even a bullet through his temple might not be enough to kill him.
The actual transformation between human and wolf is described in the greatest detail in New Moon. Certainly the initial transformation is not an easy one, and is very disconcerting and confusing.
While their skin is much more durable than that of a human being (to the degree that the bones in Bella's hand are broken when she punches Jacob in the face), it is not granite hard like a vampire's. In their wolf form, their fangs are strong enough to penetrate a vampire's skin. Bella witnesses this for herself during the climatic battle in Eclipse when she sees Seth easily biting through Riley's skin.
The wolves bear an animal scent that makes them unappetizing to vampires, making it easier for vampires to resist the temptation caused by their blood. It is possible that their scent is less revolting to vampire hybrids due to their half-human sides.
In the movies New Moon and Eclipse, the members of the pack all have the same tattoo on their right shoulder.
The tattoo was created for film merchandise much like the Cullen Crest and the Volturi symbol. The tattoo features the image of two wolves to create the face of a third.
PhasingEditThe transformation can happen at any time, and isn't dependent upon a full moon. In young werewolves, the change is involuntary, since they have not yet learned to control it. Phasing often occurs due to a loss of temper, and Paul is known to be the most volatile pack member, erupting into his wolf form at the slightest provocation. The effects of this sort of transformation is shown in the relationship between Sam and Emily, and the disfiguring injuries she suffered when he lost control near her.
Transformation or "phasing" is a sudden and violent process. The initial transformation seems to be triggered by anger, and Jake explains that his own phasing was staved off by his happiness with Bella: "I was like a time bomb. You know what set me off? I got back from that movie, and Billy said I looked weird. That was all, but I just snapped. And then I—I exploded. I almost ripped his face off—my own father!". Sam Uley's transformation also supports this, as it "took him two weeks to calm down enough to change back."
Jacob's point of view explains the transformation back into human form: "I ignored him [Jared], closing my eyes and pulling myself together again. It felt like the air was trembling around me, shaking out from me in small waves. I lifted myself up on my hind legs, catching the moment just right so that I was fully upright as I shimmered down into my human self." (Jacob Black, Breaking Dawn).
Jacob seems to find phasing between wolf and human form easier than most. "Even Sam couldn't have phased on the fly like that. He saw Paul losing it, and it took him, what, half a second to attack? The boy's got gift." (Embry Call, New Moon). Jacob later explains to Bella that this may be due to his ancestry: "It takes some practice to phase back and forth, but it's easier for me… because Ephraim Black was my father's grandfather, and Quil Ateara was my mother's grandfather."
Phasing appears only when vampires are in the neighborhood and the tribe is in need of protection. Jacob explains, "There's no exact age... it just builds and builds and then suddenly—" It appears to occur roughly when a boy reaches manhood, and is certainly accompanied by a sudden growth spurt lasting for about two months.
Only males were believed to be able to phase until the transformation of Leah Clearwater, which surprised everyone, even though "she's a direct descendant [of the spirit chiefs], all right." (Edward Cullen, Eclipse).
- Main article: Imprinting
The issue of imprinting is also critical as it is how the shape-shifters finds their soulmates: "It's not like love at first sight, really. It's more like... gravity moves. When you see her, suddenly it's not the earth holding you here anymore. She does. And nothing matters more than her." (Jacob Black, Eclipse).
Once shape-shifters have imprinted, they will feel the need to constantly be in their soulmate's presence and to unconditionally give them whatever they want or need. Should the imprintee be an infant, the shape-shifter will act as an older brother; romantic feelings will not develop until she comes of age. Imprinting works on both humans and hybrids. In Jacob's case, his hatred for vampires disappeared when he imprinted on a hybrid. It is shape-shifter law that no wolf may harm the imprintee of a fellow pack member, as this will lead to destructive inpack fighting.
Only five members of the pack are known to have imprinted, all of them male. It is uncertain whether female members are able to imprint or be imprinted on. Here is a list of the known imprinting wolves and their imprintees:
- Sam Uley – Emily Young
- Paul – Rachel Black
- Jared – Kim
- Quil Ateara – Claire Young
- Jacob Black – Renesmee Cullen
Their sense of smell is so adjusted to help them identify their one enemy, vampires. It is not clear whether it is heightened in other circumstances, but they certainly know vampires at a distance, finding their smell sickly sweet and repellent.
However, some shape-shifters can get used to the smell of the vampires, such as Seth Clearwater and Jacob Black in Breaking Dawn. They both spent a while with the Cullen family, and feel more comfortable than before around vampires.
Shape-shifters' eyes are extremely sharp and can see very far. Jared is known to have the best sight in the pack.
They all have excellent hearing even in their human forms. In Breaking Dawn, Jacob was able to hear Quil playing with Claire at First Beach from his bedroom. Seth Clearwater is known to have the best hearing in the pack.
While treating Jacob, Carlisle takes a blood sample and runs some tests on it. He discovers that they have 24 pairs of chromosomes, one more than a human and one less than a vampire, but the same number as vampire hybrids. The exact nature of the extra chromosome is unknown, but it may carry the genes needed for the shapeshifting abilities of the bearer. The hypothesis that it is somehow passed down only in Y-chromosome carrying sperm would explain why almost all shapeshifters are male, while the occasional extra chromosome being passed down in an X-chromosome carrying sperm could be the basis of Leah Clearwater's appearance. Or, alternatively, it may be that it is passed regularly by both sexes (both males and females) and that testosterone may be needed as coinducer for the shapeshifting complex together with whatever external trigger needed for phasing - Leah having a high concentration of testosterone in her bloodstream.
Children of The Moon vs. Shape-ShiftersEdit
During the confrontation with the Volturi, Edward reveals that the werewolves of La Push are actually shape-shifters and not Children of the Moon. The Children of the Moon go along with what people usually associate with werewolves: they only transform during a full moon, and create other werewolves by infecting a human with a venomous bite (like a vampire) rather than genetically like the Quileutes. Though they are not harmed by silver bullets. Also according to Edward: "There aren't very many of them left. Caius has had them hunted into near extinction."
Usage of the termEdit
In the context of the Twilight Saga, the term "shapeshifter" is used as a title applied only to the direct descendants of Taha Aki who have actually phased - that is the members of Sam's pack, of Jacob's, and Levi Uley's.
Being both descendants and fathers of shapeshifters, Harry Clearwater, Joshua Uley, Quil Ateara III and Billy Black have the right genetic makeup and the potential for phasing. However, they've never been mentioned to phase, making them indistinguishable from unshifting human beings; the title therefore is not applied to them.
In their wolf forms, shape-shifters show the general behavior of their titular animals, though they retain their human intelligence, memories and character, up to and including showing their human eyes. Pack members are also telepathically linked with each other, enhancing their coordination during hunts and fights but allowing little or no privacy at any time. The Alphas of two different packs may communicate telepathically, and are able to choose what thoughts they share, while the subordinates of different packs don't show this ability.
The dominant male, the Alpha, can force the other pack members to obey his orders against their will. So can the Beta, though he can't command his own Alpha. Though implied, it is unknown whether this characteristic is also extended down the pack hierarchy.
Alpha status is related to lineage, with Sam being the exception. It is unclear whether a lower-ranking pack member can challenge the Alpha for status. Jacob never uses his voice to impose his will on his pack mates, though he has a stronger power than Sam.
In Breaking Dawn, it is found out that Bella Swan is capable to mentally shield a whole pack of shapeshifters by consciously only operating on its Alpha, with the protection cascading down through the ranks. A comparison with a computer net appears therefore obvious, suggesting that a pack does not simply operate as a highly integrated group of intelligent and trained wolves but is already on the way of becoming a neural net with multiple consciousness foci operating together, with the Alpha's specializing in the coordination tasks. This link may also make them vulnerable to mind-based powers, and can make them easy targets.
The Quileute packsEdit
In Breaking Dawn, Seth is informed that Bella and Edward have returned home and she has contracted a rare disease. Jacob soon finds out that she is pregnant with Edward's child, instead. Sam and the others fear the harm the child could bring and plan to destroy the Cullens including Bella and her mutant spawn. Jacob and Seth leave Sam's pack and form their own, in defense of the Cullens. They are soon joined by Seth's sister, Leah, who wants to get away from Sam and protect her brother. After the birth of Renesmee, Jacob imprints on her and the shape-shifters' feud with the Cullens is put to an end as it is strictly forbidden for any shape-shifter to harm the object of another shape-shifter's imprinting.
The Uley packEdit
- Main article: Uley pack
- Sam Uley - Alpha
- Jared Cameron - Beta
- Paul Lahote - Third-in-command
- Collin Littlesea
- Brady Fuller
- Seven other members
The Black packEdit
- Main article: Black pack
- Jacob Black - Alpha
- Leah Clearwater - Beta
- Embry Call - Third-in-command
- Seth Clearwater
- Quil Ateara V
Ephraim Black's packEdit
- Main article: Ephraim Black's pack
- ↑ Breaking Dawn page 704.