The dire wolf is a recent enhancement to the Pleistocene fauna discovered at Tule Springs Fossil Beds. buzzpatterson.com illustration by Benji Paysnoe.

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Scientific Name

Canis (Aenocyon) dirus


The dire wolf was the biggest of the so late Pleistocene canids of north America. The skull could reach as much as 12 inches in length and its this were bigger and an ext robust than today’s gray wolves. In terms of body size, the dire wolf was on mean the dimension of the largest gray wolf which have actually a shoulder height of 38 inches and also a body length of 69 inches.The very first dire wolf fossils were found in 1854 native the Ohio flow in Indiana. American Paleontologist, Joseph Leidy, named this varieties in 1858 from this fossils in addition to some others from Nebraska. The Latin name for Canis (Aenocyon) dirus equates to “terrible wolf”. The earliest record that the dire wolf dates to 250,000 years earlier and they go extinct roughly 10,000 years ago.


Until recently, the morphology of the skull and skeleton of the dire wolf suggested that the ancestors break-up from a common eastern ancestor to today’s gray wolves (Canis lupus). Emerging genetic data on numerous dire wolf specimens imply that, surprisingly, they to be not carefully related come gray wolves, but had a closer partnership to today’s jackals. These data imply that dire wolf descended native a carnivore linage going earlier 5 million years back in phibìc America, rather of wolf-like canids that spread from Eurasia into South America and also North America approximately 1 million year ago. The comparable morphological characteristics between gray wolves and dire wolves might be a result of convergent evolution and not very closely shared ancestry. This 2021 examine has suggested placing the dire wolf in a different genus: Aenocyon.

Distribution and Habitat

Fossils that dire wolves have actually been uncovered in both North and South America. In north America, dire wolves have actually been found as much north together Alaska and also down right into southern Mexico. In the unified States, fossils the dire wolves have actually been uncovered on both the Atlantic and also Pacific coasts and also much that the central, southern, and southwestern regions. Thousands of dire wolf fossils have actually been collected from Rancho La Brea in Los Angeles, California. In south America, fossils that dire wolves date to about 17,000 years earlier have been uncovered in Venezuela, Peru and Bolivia. Recently, a partial jaw of a dire wolf was established from China, arguing that the dire wolf crossed the Bering floor Bridge right into Asia from phibìc America.The distribution of the dire wolf says it was adapted for multiple habitats, indigenous boreal grasslands, seaside open woodlands, come tropical wetlands.


Dire wolves were carnivorous. Isotopic analysis of dire wolf fossils suggest that horses were crucial prey varieties and animals such ground sloths, bison, and camels comprised less of your diet. Overall, the dire wolf was not a prey specialist favor the Pleistocene saber-toothed cat. Tooth breakage in a big number that dire wolves discovered at Rancho La Brea have additionally led some researchers to imply that dire wolves regularly contended for carcasses and also chewed on bone.

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Age and also Behavior

The big number that dire wolf fossils found at Rancho La Brea have said that like modern-day gray wolves and also other canids, dire wolves formed large social groups to aid hunt and also raise pups. Sex-related dimorphism is watched in male and also female dire wolves with the males gift larger and a bit more robust than the females.

Tule Springs Dire Wolf

The dire wolf is another recent addition to the Pleistocene fauna discovered at Tule Springs. The first fossil the a dire wolf established from Tule Springs Fossil Beds nationwide Monument to be a single patella (knee bone). The variety of dire wolf fossils found at sites such together Rancho La Brea are distinct in the fossil record-- huge carnivore fossils are not typically identified in ~ Tule Springs Fossil Beds national Monument. Typically, ecosystems have actually a lot fewer predators 보다 prey, so there are merely fewer of castle to keep as a fossil.