March 25, 2011

The Dire Wolf (Cainus Dirus) was a prehistoric wolf that was closely related to the Gray wolf that we know today. There are however no descendants from this species of wolf today. They coexisted with the Gray wolf for about 100,000 years and were dominant in North and Central America. About 10,000 years they suddenly became extinct whereas the Gray Wolf who traveled to the Americas from EurAsia continued to thrive.

The Dire Wolve's appearance and behavior was similar to the Gray Wolf but there were also major differences. They were larger than the Gray, weighed about 150 lbs. which is about 70 lbs more than the Gray wolf. They also had a much larger skull and jaw and their teeth were much larger and stronger. The Dire wolf would hunt in large packs of at least 30 wolves. And they would go after prey that was 10 times their size. Whereas Gray Wolves will seek out the weak and sick animals, the Dire wolves would go after the strongest. Because they traveled in such large packs, they needed to feed a lot of wolves.

Dire Wolves used to hunt in super packs of 30 wolves. Their main staple of food was the horse and the bison, who were both large and potentially dangerous to the wolves with the use of their hooves.
The lead wolf would attack and bring down the prey and then the rest of the pack would finish off the animal. Dire wolves also had major food competitors such as the Short-Nosed Bear and the Sabor Tooth tiger which weighed about 600 lbs. The Dire Wolves quickly devoured the prey animal and would even eat the bones to survive. We know alot about this wolf because 3,600 of them were found in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles about 100 yrs. ago.

Then coinciding with the end of the last glacial period, the explosion of a comet over North America and the arrival of humans in North America about 16,000 yrs. ago, most of the large mammals that the Dire Wolf depended on for food began to die out. Because the Dire Wolf was much slower than the other wolf species such as the Grey Wolf and Red Wolf, it could not hunt the swifter species that remained and was forced to subsist on scavenging. 10,000 years ago, the large mammals and the Dire Wolf had become extinct.

Photo © National Geographic

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Responses to "The Dire Wolf - North America's Prehistoric Wolf (Video)"

  1. Anonymous says:

    wow, i really like this video! i really love wolves!! too bad we couldnt see the dire wolves today :(

  2. Anonymous says:

    Great presentation and very interesting ! Thank-you !

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great video...Great post! very interesting...TY!

  4. Don't know if it's true or not, but it's been said that a pack does live in Eastern Siberia far away from humans, and considering we are still finding animals that we thought were extinct it is possible.

  5. Anonymous says:

    pity that i could not see the video tonight would love to know more about them

  6. Anonymous says:

    Very very interesting, Ive always wondered about these 'mega' wolves and now I know a lot more! Great post

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