A 1993 study proposed that the higher frequency of tooth breakage among Pleistocene carnivores compared with living carnivores was not the result of hunting larger game, something that might be assumed from the larger size of the former. [40] The largest C. d. dirus femur was found in Carroll Cave, Missouri, and measured 278 mm (10.9 in). Yukon wolves are bigger than other wolves and tend to have darker fur. [2][19] However, there are disputed specimens of C. dirus that date to 250,000 YBP. Canines are the teeth most likely to break because of their shape and function, which subjects them to bending stresses that are unpredictable in both direction and magnitude.

[48][56] This indicates that the dire wolf was not a prey specialist, and at the close of the late Pleistocene before its extinction it was hunting or scavenging the most available herbivores. dirus.

[26][27] Gloria D. Goulet agreed with Martin, proposing further that this hypothesis might explain the sudden appearance of C. dirus in North America and, judging from the similarities in their skull shapes, that C. lupus had given rise to the C. dirus hypermorph due to an abundance of game, a stable environment, and large competitors.

How widely they were then distributed is not known. Like the gray wolf today, the dire wolf probably used its post-carnassial molars to gain access to marrow, but the dire wolf's larger size enabled it to crack larger bones. [38][51] The extinction of the large carnivores and scavengers is thought to have been caused by the extinction of the megaherbivore prey upon which they depended. Scott", "Megafaunal extinctions and the disappearance of a specialized wolf ectomorph", 10.1671/0272-4634(2002)022[0164:SDSBAI]2.0.CO;2, "Parallels between playbacks and Pleistocene tar seeps suggest sociality in an extinct sabretooth cat, Smilodon", "Tough Times at La Brea: Tooth Breakage in Large Carnivores of the Late Pleistocene", "Costs of carnivory: Tooth fracture in Pleistocene and Recent carnivorans", Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 10.1671/0272-4634(2002)022[0423:TVITFA]2.0.CO;2, "Dental microwear textures of carnivorans from the La Brea Tar Pits, California and potential extinction implications", "Chapter 2: Who's who in the Pleistocene", Information on the dire wolf from the Illinois State Museum, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dire_wolf&oldid=986741497, Wikipedia pending changes protected pages, Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 2 November 2020, at 18:57. dirus. Canidae", "Vertebrate fossils of Rock Creek, Texas", 10.1671/0272-4634(2006)26[209:NBMEFC]2.0.CO;2, "Phylogenetic Systematics of the North American Fossil Caninae (Carnivora: Canidae)", "Quaternary evolution and biogeography of the large South American Canidae (Mammalia: Carnivora)", "Phylogeny of the large extinct South American Canids (Mammalia, Carnivora, Canidae) using a "total evidence" approach", "7 The Blancan, Irvingtonian, and Rancholabrean Mammal Ages", "Early Rancholabrean mammals from Salamander Cave, Black Hills, South Dakota", "Extinct Beringian wolf morphotype found in the continental U.S. Has implications for wolf migration and evolution", "Molecular phylogenetic inference from saber-toothed cat fossils of Rancho La Brea", "Attempted DNA extraction from a Rancho La Brea Columbian mammoth (Mammuthus columbi): Prospects for ancient DNA from asphalt deposits", "Compilation, calibration, and synthesis of faunal and floral radiocarbon dates, Rancho La Brea, California", "The Relative Lengths of Limb Elements in Canis dirus", "Ecology drives evolution in grey wolves", "Bite club: Comparative bite force in big biting mammals and the prediction of predatory behaviour in fossil taxa", "Cranial morphometrics of the dire wolf, Canis dirus, at Rancho La Brea: temporal variability and its links to nutrient stress and climate", "IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007 – Palaeoclimatic Perspective", "Late Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinctions", "Carnivore-specific stable isotope variables and variation in the foraging ecology of modern and ancient wolf populations: Case studies from Isle Royale, Minnesota, and La Brea", "Rancho la Brea Tar Pool.


The species was named in 1858, four years after the first specimen had been found. [16], In 1984 a study by Björn Kurtén recognized a geographic variation within the dire wolf populations and proposed two subspecies: Canis dirus guildayi (named by Kurtén in honor of the paleontologist John E. Guilday) for specimens from California and Mexico that exhibited shorter limbs and longer teeth, and Canis dirus dirus for specimens east of the North American Continental Divide that exhibited longer limbs and shorter teeth. Dire wolf body size had decreased between the start of the Last Glacial Maximum and near its ending at the warm Allerød oscillation. [51] A similar trend was found with the gray wolf, which in the Santa Barbara basin was originally massive, robust, and possibly convergent with the dire wolf, but was replaced by more gracile forms by the start of the Holocene. [55], A range of animal and plant specimens that became entrapped and were then preserved in tar pits have been removed and studied so that researchers can learn about the past.

[73][75], The results of a study of dental microwear on tooth enamel for specimens of the carnivore species from La Brea pits, including dire wolves, suggest that these carnivores were not food-stressed just before their extinction. Tundra wolves have lighter fur and a longer coat, although they are about the same size as Yukon wolves. [5] In 1908 the paleontologist John Campbell Merriam began retrieving numerous fossilized bone fragments of a large wolf from the Rancho La Brea tar pits. The study concluded that between 15,000 and 14,000 YBP prey availability was less or competition was higher for dire wolves, and that by 13,000 YBP, as the prey species moved towards extinction, predator competition had declined and therefore the frequency of tooth breakage in dire wolves had also declined. As so little was found of these three specimens, Allen thought it best to leave each specimen listed under its provisional name until more material could be found to reveal their relationship.

Individual weights for Yukon wolves can vary from 21 kg (46 lb) to 55 kg (121 lb), with one Yukon wolf weighing 79.4 kg (175 lb). Though there are no official papers proving this wolf to be the largest recorded, we can all agree that he is friggen huge.

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