‘Game of Thrones’: Facts for Thought on ‘Direwolves’
I think at some point and time, almost every Game of Thrones fan has wanted a Dire Wolf of their very own. Well, maybe that is just me. Dire Wolves have been made very popular by the late Game of Thrones television and book series. Even though they were illustrated through these fictional works, did you know that are not fictional at all? There was indeed a point and time when Dire Wolves roamed the world, North America more specifically.
Check out some of these cool facts below:
1. Dire Wolves are currently being ‘recreated’
The National American Alsatian Club is working on a project called ‘The Dire Wolf Project’, a program to breed specific domestic dog breeds to bring back the look of the Dire Wolf which has been extinct for quite some time. Since 1988, the American Altisan Breeder’s Association has been combining various dog breeds to bring back the look of the large prehistoric Dire Wolf. All I’m saying is… I get dibs on the name ‘Ghost’ 🙂
2. Dire Wolves are actually bigger than you think
Dire Wolves were about 25% bigger than the grey wolf, weighing approximately 150-200 pounds. This being, because the dire wolf is much bigger boned than the average grey wolf. Dire wolf bones were broader overall and connected to large, enviable muscles.
3. They had an extremely powerful bite
Paleontologist Francois Therrin has calculated that dire wolves could chomp down with 129% of the force more than their 21st century grey wolf and 64% more than the extinct American Lion.
4. Dire Wolves co-existed with the Sabre-tooth Tiger
Bones have been found of both Sabre-tooth Tigers and Dire Wolves in the close areas near similar prey, suggesting that these two probably had some battles over prey. Although there have been no prehistoric records as of yet indicating that the two species frequently fought against each other, the math is simple. Carnivore against carnivore over prey, at some point, someone had to lose. Fossils of both species have been found near each other at the historic La Brea tar pits.
5. Dire Wolves were ‘hypercarnivores’
That sounds like a pretty scary term, doesn’t it? Not to worry… Hypercarnivore means is that the Dire Wolf’s diet consisted of at least 70 percent meat. Hypercarnivores are distinguished by their large, slicing canines, which had evolved to cut through prey’s flesh like a knife through butter. Their meat source diet came from large animals like horses, bison, Woolly Mammoths, Ox’s and even giant ground sloths.
6. They’re mentioned in a Grateful Dead song
If you’re a fan of the Grateful Dead, you may be familiar with a track from their landmark 1970 album Workingman’s Dead. In “Dire Wolf,” Jerry Garcia sings:
When I awoke, the Dire Wolf
Six hundred pounds of sin
Was grinnin at my window
All I said was “come on in”
Don’t murder me
I beg of you don’t murder me
don’t murder me
7. They are predicted to have gone extinct following the ‘Ice Age’
Like most other prehistoric species, the Dire Wolf vanished shortly after the last Ice Age. This, more than likely, resulted from a severe lack of prey for these beautiful predators to feed on. Research is still being conducted today to confirm their exact disappearance.
8. Fossils of the Dire Wolf are being found on multiple continents
The Dire wolf lived in many parts of the world from North America to Bolivia but was mainly found in North and South America. There has been debate in regards to which continent the Dire Wolves first roamed. There are over 136 locations throughout the world where Dire Wolf fossils have been recovered. It has been recorded that a heavy number of these fossils have been found in California, USA.
9. They’ve been known by many names throughout history
They were originally named by the famous paleontologist Joseph Leidy, in 1858 as Canis dirus; which translated means ‘fearsome dog’. They have also been known as Canis ayersi, Canis indianensis and Canis mississippiensis, and Aenocyon Dirus. Eventually, in the 1980’s, the species were reverted back to Canis dirus.
10. They existed for over a million years
The Dire Wolf was in existence for about 1.79 million years, and are thought to have lived in packs of 30 or more. This has lead paleontologists and researchers to believe that they operated in family-oriented packs, similar to wolves today. Their average life expectancy is predicted to have been approximately 6-8 years old.
Be sure to check out the video below, for some more Dire Wolf trivia!