A giant species of vicious wolves that prowled in North America approximately 12,000 years ago were believed to be closely related to living wolves.
The image is backed by the HBO television series “Game of Thrones”, which offers what it thinks to be a fairly accurate depiction of a now extinct animal. They are the famous symbols of House Stark, known from the residence of the cold Northern Territory of the legendary George RR Martin’s Westeros world.
However, in real life, prehistoric dreadful wolves were not closely related to modern wolves, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature, and they appear to be probably not suitable for all cold.
“I don̵7;t think the average fearsome wolf is thrilled with life in a frozen Winterfell,” says Angela Perri, an archaeologist at Durham University in the United Kingdom and lead author of the study. Winterfell is House Staun’s ancestral castle. Ark
Scientists speculate that the formidable wolves are mixed with gray wolves and related species, as most living (dog-like) species can include wolves, foxes and domesticated dogs. But a new study reveals that fearful wolves belonged to an ancient lineage, unlike other dogs in that they weren’t bred.
And if they weren’t mixed, researchers argue that fearful wolves might not be able to find traits that would allow them to survive in a rapidly changing environment at the end of the last Ice Age, which It was a time when they were extinct.
“The wolf on the opposite side has no ability to adapt,” Perry said.
The other reason for their disappearance could be the extinction of many prey in hot environments such as horses, camels and mammoths – possibly some of them in the hands of the early Americans. Arrived at the same time Or it could be that fearful wolves fell victim to a disease brought on by wolves and other wolf species that evolved in Eurasia, she said.
The Dire shore wolf fossils have been found in many areas across North and South America, mostly in the lowlands and in warm climates, Perri said, she thinks the dire wolf in real life might have a short coat suited to warm climates instead. It is the thick shag shown in the fantasy television series.
“I wonder if Nymeria, Ghost and Lady [three of the dire wolves in “Game of Thrones”] It will look more like a more warm-adapted dog like dholes, ”she said, referring to a breed known as the short haired Asian wild dog.
Perri and her colleagues have spent years collecting possible ancient DNA samples from fearsome wolf fossils, found in some 150 archaeological sites.
Co-author Laurent Frantz, Professor of Paleogenetics at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich in Germany said the study used ancient DNA recovered from five fossil-dense teeth and ear bones.
By comparing ancient DNA with genetic material from other dog breeds, they found that the fearsome wolf’s closest relative was the African jackal, which was separated some 5.1 million years ago, while the wolf had Life closest to the difference was about 5.7 million years.
“That was a lot longer than we thought,” Frantz said. “We thought more in tens of thousands of years.”
It is likely the ancestor of the fearsome wolves that took over the Americas before the last Ice Age, and that terrible wolf evolved alone over millions of years, while the gray wolf (canis lupus) evolved in Eurasia and Immigrants to America more recently, perhaps in the last 50,000 years, he said.
“This is a remarkable result,” said Robert Dundas, a vertebrate paleontologist and professor at California State University Fresno who researched mammals in the Ice Age and was not involved in the research. In this study
The finding that fearful wolves did not mingle with other species, unlike nearly all living dogs, could have implications for the cause of their extinction, he said.
“Animals that can be mixed… maybe they have an advantage in selection,” he said.
Mairin Balisi, a paleontologist at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History who works with fearsome wolf fossils from the Labrea oil well, said the new research calls for rethinking.
“Many of the terrifying behavior of wolves we can infer have implicitly assumed that the gray wolves are their closest living relatives,” she said, “but this shows that they are not.”
Still, it is likely that fearful wolves are pack animals like gray wolves and not lone predators like foxes. One reason is that some fearsome wolf fossils from La Brea showed they recovered from debilitating injuries such as broken bones, showing their pack feeding them when they couldn’t hunt. have
The oil wells at La Brea are a fearsome colony of wolves, more than 4,000 of their fossils have been found since excavations began in the early 20th century.
“It would be fortunate to have a size 10 specimen for some species, but we were lucky,” Balisee said. But fortunately for paleontologists. “