The ancient wolves, now extinct, may be among the longest-lived wolves – genetically different from their closest wolf relatives that they are no longer able to mate, forcing them into an evolutionary deadlock when It died 13,000 years ago.
That’s the finding from a new study, an in-depth analysis of DNA extracted from terrifying ancient wolf bones from across North America. One catastrophic wolf (Dimmed dog) Unlike gray wolves millions of years ago, they never seemed to mingle.
In fact, the big difference is their genetic lineage from other dog breeds, the research team suggested that the dreaded wolves were classified in a completely different genus – they were reclassified as “horrible wolves”;. Aenocyon dirusAs first proposed all the way in 1918.
“The Wolf Directory is sometimes portrayed as a mythical creature – giant wolves wandering the frigid landscape – but the reality turns out to be even more interesting,” says paleontologist Kieren Mitchell. say
“Despite the anatomical similarities between gray wolves and fearsome wolves – suggesting that they may be related in the same way as modern humans and Neanderthals – our genetic results show that they are very similar.” Both wolf species are similar to their distant relatives, such as humans and chimpanzees. ”
The Dire side wolf remains can be found in fossil records from 250,000 to about 13,000 years ago and appears to dominate the carnivores scene during the last Ice Age in North America.
In the famous Labria oil well alone, there were more fearsome wolves than the smaller gray wolves.Canis lupus) More than a hundred times
But how they differed, evolved and eventually extinct at the end of the last Ice Age some 11,700 years ago, it was a challenge to piece together. Therefore, an international team of scientists aims to find the only clue we have: bones.
“The wolf on the opposite side has always been a symbol of the last Ice Age in America. But what we know about their evolutionary history is limited to what we can see from the size and shape of the bones, ”said Angela Perri, archaeologist at Durham University.
But sometimes fossils may have other information on them: DNA is well preserved enough to be sequenced. And that’s what the review team
They took five terrifying wolf DNA samples from 50,000 years ago to 12,900 years ago from Idaho, Ohio, Wyoming and Tennessee, and sequencing them.
It was then compared with genomic data from eight of the dogs living today, obtained from the genome database: Coyote Gray Wolf (Canis latrans), African wolf (Canis lupaster), Hole (Cuon alpinus), Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), African wild dog (Lycaon Pictus), Andean fox (Lycalopex culpaeus) And the gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus).
They also created a new genome sequence for the gray wolf, the jackal, black (Canis mesomelas) And the lateral patterned (Canis).
They found that unlike other wolves migrating between terrifying regions, the fearsome wolf never left North America.
And interestingly, although they’ve been sharing space with coyotes and gray wolves for at least 10,000 years, they don’t seem to have any ties to them to produce hybrids.
“When we first started our study, we thought that the terrible wolves were mated gray wolves, so we were amazed to learn how genetically different they are. They can’t have hybrids, ”said Laurent, a molecular geneticist Frantz of Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and Queen Mary University in the UK.
“This must mean that terrible wolves have been isolated in North America for a very long time to be genetically different.”
In fact, according to an analysis of the fearsome wolf team and the gray wolf must differ from their common ancestors more than 5 million years ago, when you consider that dogs and wolves were separated between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago, that was the time. Very long
Mating between canid species with overlapping territories is normal. Coyote and wolf hybrids are so common that they have names – wolves – and wolf dog hybrids are not known either. (Although inbreeding as a pet is highly controversial in the United States), it is therefore extremely uncommon for the fearful wolf to spend a long time with this breed without mating.
And although the team did not explore this possibility But genetic isolation may eventually contribute to the death of ancient beasts as they are unable to adapt to the changing world with new traits.
“While ancient and Neanderthals appeared to be crossbreeds, as were the modern gray wolves and gray wolves, our genetic information provides no evidence that the formidable wolves could be mated with a living dog breed. Yes, ”Mitchell said. “All our information points to the fearsome wolf, the last surviving member of an ancient bloodline that is different from all living fangs.”
The research is published in nature.