Game Of Thrones Dire Wolves Were Real!


Here We Stand. Behold Our Bounty! Let It Be
Written that DNews have the Family, Duty, Honor to be the Light in the Darkness — Guys.The
dire wolf. It’s real. And Winter is Coming. May the light of the seven shine upon you,
I’m Trace, thanks for tuning in to DNews! If you’re not familiar, in Game of Thrones,
the family symbol of many of the main characters who’ve died thus far in the series — spoiler
— is a direwolf; a massive, intelligent species wolf common in the wildlands north of the
Wall. But, and this is just frickin’ amazing… The direwolf isn’t entirely fictional! As
late as 12,000 years ago, right here in the good old Americas, there were dire wolves.
Aaaaaand they might be coming back. Okay, so the direwolf and the dire wolf are
two different things. The one word direwolf is fictional, and two word dire wolf or canis
dirus was very real! In the first season of the TV show, direwolf pups are played by Northern
Inuit Dogs, which are bred to look like wolves. In the later seasons the wolves were played
by actual wolves, because HBO does not do half measures. This is about the best we can
do today, because actual dire wolves are extinct. The real life Canis dirus lived between 300,000
and 12,000 years ago, which, as it happens, was the last time perpetual winter happened
for real. Dire wolves evolved towards the end of the Pleistocene epoch, the last great
ice age, when huge glaciers covered up to 30% of the Earth’s surface. At their peak,
the ice sheets extended as far south as what is now Kentucky and were almost 4 kilometers
thick. This was the age of megafauna like mammoths, giant condors, giant beavers, and
giants sloths. Pretty much everything had the word giant in its name. For warm blooded
animals, being larger meant retaining heat better, which was an advantage during an ice
age. So combine giant prey with colder conditions and you get a Red Wedding made in heaven for
bigger predators like dire wolves. Dire wolves weren’t quite as huge as George
“valar morghulis” Martin makes them out to be**. An average dire wolf was about 80
cm tall, the same height of modern gray wolves, but they were 25% heavier, weighing up to
67 kilograms. Their skulls were broader and had a large crest down the midline that was
a good anchor point for their strong jaw muscles. Because of that their bite is estimated to
be 29% stronger than a gray wolf’s, which already has the largest bite pressure of any
living canid. Dire wolves and gray wolves coexisted for
about 100,000 years, but the end of the pleistocene was marked with a period of extinction that
wiped out three quarters of the large ice age animals. No one’s really sure why, it
may have been due to climate change or humans getting really good at hunting or both, but
suddenly all those giant animals died out. The dire wolves went the way of the wooly
mammoth and sabre-toothed cat and the Starks, while their smaller, quicker, bigger-brained
cousins, the gray wolves, survived. So, you can’t have a dire wolf as a pet
because their genetic lineage hit a dead end and most of what we know about them comes
from the skeletons we’ve found in the La Brea tar pits, where there were oodles of
dire poodles. But one dog breeder is aiming to revive them, or at least the fantasy version
of them. The Dire Wolf Project has been breeding larger, long-lived dire wolf-alikes since
1988. After spending 20 years Never Resting, and breeding Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds,
Great Pyrenees, Anatolian Shepherd, and English Mastiff together — they created what they
called the American Alsatian a 59kg shaggy dog. Still 8 kilos lighter than a true canis
dirus, but still Growing Strong. Dogs have been with humanity waaay longer
than we thought, but who actually domesticated them? Did we do it? Or did dogs domesticate
themselves? — Check out DNews Plus for a whole series on the domestication of animals
big and small here.

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