Saturday, February 20, 2021

Dire Wolves are Distantly Related Dire Canines ?


    Most people know of the dire wolf, the megafauna canine that hunted bison, competed against saber tooth cats for resources and eventually dying out at the end of the last ice age. Others might know dire wolves as the symbol of the Stark Family from A Song of Ice and Fire or Game of Thrones. Hulking massive wolves that could be warged to see from their eyes or attack others. Those interpretations of dire wolves are overhyping the dire wolf when in reality, it could have been a coyote on steroids. 

In a Science Magazine article, dire wolves are only now recently given their own genetic line in the canid family. Far away from the other branches such as foxes, jackals, wolves and coyotes. In fact the La Brea Tar Pits, the resting places of hundreds of dire wolves, mitochondrial DNA was taken and compared to several living canid species in the United States. The results were striking, as the grey wolf diverges from the dire wolf very early on in genetics.There was also no hybridization between grey wolves and dire wolves, meaning that their DNA was incompatible .Coyotes and grey wolves regularly hybridize, only adding to the suspicion that the dire wolf was another beast entirely, genetically speaking. However, the dire wolf DNA genome is incomplete, thus leaving room for genes that do tied them to the grey wolf. 

Since dire wolves were specialized in hunting megafauna, it is a widely believed theory that they died out when their prey also died out due to climate change and human competition.Their phenotype was also  .Unable to adapt, dire wolves became another extinct species, while smaller canids such as coyotes and grey wolves flourished.

If that genome of the dire wolf is ever completed, It would change how the canines in the United States came to be. Also their recreation of their looks would also drastically change. 

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