Scientists Say: Dire wolf | Science News for Students

Scientists Say: Dire wolf

These wolves exist in the fictional realm of Game of Thrones, but they’re long gone in real life
Aug 28, 2017 — 6:50 am EST
dire wolf
This is the skeleton of a dire wolf.
James St. John/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-2.0)

Dire wolf (noun, “DIE-er wolf”)

This is a species of wolf (Canis dirus) that lived in North America from about 300,000 to 12,000 years ago. Fossils from these animals suggest that dire wolves could have weighed as much as 67 kilograms (148 pounds) and grow up to 1.8 meters (or 6 feet) long. That makes them similar in size to the largest of modern wolves. Don’t expect to ever run across one, though. Dire wolves are now extinct.

In a sentence

The remains of more than 4,000 dire wolves have been found among the many fossils preserved in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, Calif.

Check out the full list of Scientists Say here

Follow Eureka! Lab on Twitter

Power Words

dire wolf     An ancient species (Canis dirus) that first showed up in North America around 300,000 years ago. It survived until about 12,000 years ago. Fossils show it would have weighed up to 67 kilograms (148 pounds) and sported a body that would have spanned up to 1.8 meters (6 feet) from snout to tail tip. It ate a varied diet that could have included big prey such as horses, although bison, camels, mastodons and sloths also were eaten (probably when taken down by a pack of these wolves.

extinct     An adjective that describes a species for which there are no living members.

fossil     Any preserved remains or traces of ancient life. There are many different types of fossils: The bones and other body parts of dinosaurs are called “body fossils.” Things like footprints are called “trace fossils.” Even specimens of dinosaur poop are fossils. The process of forming fossils is called fossilization.

species     A group of similar organisms capable of producing offspring that can survive and reproduce.