Your Favorite "Game of Thrones" Canine
The dire wolf was probably the heaviest canine ever to have existed. It earned its 'dire' tag from comparisons with the modern grey wolf. A much heftier beast with larger teeth, its powerful build and short legs indicate it might have been more of an ambush hunter and less of a long-distance runner than modern wolves.
The Dire wolf lived in many parts of the world from North America to Bolivia but was mainly found in North and South America. Because of bone fragments found in California, it is believed they had a high population there.
There are over 136 locations throughout the world where Dire Wolf fossils have been recovered.
Just as the Dire Wolf's homeland was widespread, so was its habitat. They lived everywhere from mountainous forest areas to flat plains areas to dry savannahs.
The life expectancy of this prehistoric animal was about 6-8 years.
The scientific name for the Dire Wolf is Canis Dirus and basically stands for fearsome dog. It was given its scientific name by scientist, Joseph Leidy.
Patterns on the fossilized teeth of the Dire Wolf suggest that the molars may have been used for crushing their food and grinding up bones to get the most nutritional value.
The Dire Wolf was in existence for about 1.79 million years.
Because of the large amount of bone fragments found in one location, the La Brea tar pits, it is believed that this species hunted in packs.
The Dire Wolf was an aggressive carnivorous predator. Some of the prey it hunted included Bison, sloths, musk ox, mountain goats, Woolly Mammoths and Woolly Rhinoceros.
Lions, Saber toothed-tigers, Cheetahs, Bears, and Mountain Wolfs all competed for the same type of prey.
The first fossil of a Dire Wolf, which was a jawbone, was found in 1854 in Indiana.
Dire Wolf vs. Gray Wolf Facts
Because it had shorter legs than the Gray Wolf, it was most likely not as fast a runner and may have hunted slower moving animals.
This animal was a close ancestor of the Gray Wolf. Since dogs are descendents of the Gray Wolf, dogs and Dire Wolves are related.
The size of the Dire Wolf was approximately 5 feet long (1.5 meters) and weighed about 175 pounds (79 kilograms) making it considerably larger than the Gray Wolf and probably the heaviest canine to have ever existed.
In proportion, the Dire Wolf had a bigger head and larger teeth than the Gray Wolf.
Despite the size of its head, the Dire Wolf had a smaller brain than the Gray Wolf.