Dire wolves with reddish fur facing off against gray wolves.This picture, taken by artist Mauricio Anton in 2020, was taken in consultation with researchers who believe the animals are likely to have more reddish fur than previously thought, as new research shows that the terrible wolves are in the same “phylogenetic bracket” as dholes and Ethiopian wolves

Even before they appeared as fictional pets on the TV series Game of Thrones, terrifying wolves had long caught their imaginations.Weighing around 150 pounds, the creatures were larger than the heaviest of today’s gray wolves and roamed and hunted large parts of America now extinct megafauna such as ice age horses and ground sloths

But a lot about her remains unknown. Where are you from? How similar were they to today’s gray wolves? And why are they around 13Extinct 000 years after surviving hundreds of millennia?

In the first study of its kind, researchers analyzed multiple full genomes for these creatures and discovered some surprises in the process. Instead of sharing close genetic ties with the gray wolf (Canis lupus) as might be expected based on their similarity, the horrific ones were Wolves evolutionarily distant cousins ​​that have long been isolated on the American continent

“Mire wolves and gray wolves look very similar morphologically, but genetics says they are in no way closely related,” explains Angela Perri, an archaeologist at Durham University and co-author of a published paper on the genetics of terrible wolves Wednesday in the journal Nature

The new findings clarify the relationships between members of the canine family by placing evil wolves (Canis dirus) in a New World lineage that separated from the ancestors of the gray wolf around 5 million years ago, while the mystery surrounding the Development and ultimate extinction of the terrible wolf was further deepened

“The question now is: are your extinctions related to climate and environmental changes, or have humans and possibly other wolves, dogs and [diseases] helped drive them away?” Perri says

A reconstruction of Canis dirus from 2008 next to a group of Colombian mammoths.This picture used the same coat pattern as today’s gray wolves, although the artist Mauricio Anton has since replaced it with a more reddish coat like the previous picture

The terrible wolf – once classified in the genus Aenocyon, meaning “terrible” or “terrible” – is a much mythological carnivore known for its imposing size, special bone-breaking molars, and propensity to hunt large herbivores It was just one of the notable animals that once roamed America, along with giant cats, giant short-faced bears, giant sloths, and camels – a lost menagerie of creatures that could not adapt to a changing world at the end of the Pleistocene / p>
In fact, long before the current study began, the iconic terrible wolf was big in Perri’s imagination. “One of my questions has always been whether there were bad wolves when humans came to America,” and whether there was an interaction between the two, says Perri, who also studies human-animal interactions (relatives: Huskies can pay the price in search of real wolves)

When she and her colleagues began the study of terrible wolves a few years ago, they knew there was one place that was not lacking in fossils for terrible wolves: La Brea Tar Pits, an iconic “predator trap” in the today’s Los Angeles

However, efforts to date to extract significant stretches of DNA from horrific wolves, saber-toothed cats, and other animals in La Brea have largely failed – the site’s hot, harsh environment is boiling and shredding genetic material, and the current team’s attempts have not been much better

“The tar pit is a hot, bubbly mess, and that’s not very good for DNA conservation,” explains co-senior author Greger Larson, director of the Oxford University’s Paleogenomics and Bioarchaeology Research Network

However, a La Brea sample revealed something new: a collagen protein sequence that allowed researchers to compare evil wolves to domestic dogs, gray wolves, coyotes, and African wolves. Your conclusion? The terrible wolf was dramatically different

But the team needed more since the sequence of a single protein isn’t all that informative when it comes to defining complex canid relationships, says Laurent Frantz, a researcher at Queen Mary University in London and the University of Oxford and Study cooperator author

In 2016, Perri began traversing the US by bus, rental car, and plane on a bone-collecting tour that took her to museums and university collections to examine and collect horrific pieces of wolf bone to get enough DNA for genetic analysis

The trip wasn’t without its challenges Explain to airport security why you have a bag full of tooth splinters, bone fragments, drills and electronic gauges, laughs Perri.But the search was worth it, and as she suspected, some researchers had terrible wolf samples without it to know

“Because they are so morphologically similar to gray wolves, a lot of people don’t know if they have bad wolves in their collections. They are often just called” wolf “,” explains Perri. “I’ve worked my way around different parts of the U.digging through old boxes… spending a lot of time alone in different cellars ”

Together with coworkers, she and her colleagues finally created genetic profiles for five representative terrible wolves from Ohio, Idaho, Tennessee and Wyoming

A series of drawings from 2008 showing the step-by-step anatomical reconstruction of terrible wolves. The only significant change since then is that the fur is viewed as reddish brown; their body shape remains the same

The oldest sample is at least 50000 years old The youngest seemed barely 12To be 000 years old, suggesting that some horrific wolves overlap with gray wolves, coyotes, dholes, gray foxes, and perhaps early humans

The researchers examined the terrible wolf genomes alongside the available sequences of gray wolf, coyote, dhole, gray fox, African wolf, Ethiopian wolf, African wild dog and Andean fox, as well as new sequences for the black-backed jackal and the side-striped jackal, both found in Africa / p>

Through a series of genetic pedigree analyzes, the team showed that the terrible wolf was distantly related to other wolves and was relatively closely related to the black-backed African jackal and the side-striped jackal

Investigators estimate that the lineage of terrible wolves split off from the lineage leading to gray wolves by 5 million years ago and remained isolated, though later overlapping with other canid species for millennia, one such genetic isolation is unusual in related canid species that often interbreed

The new genetic findings prompted the paleoartist Mauricio Anton to make a new drawing of the terrible wolf that he illustrated in the past Gone, for example, is the long, dark fur, since it is believed that black fur and other adaptive ones Features have invaded North American wolf populations by mingling with other canids on the continent, which terrible wolves seem not to have.Other external similarities remain, including a wolf-like head and body shape

Aside from the implications for understanding the formation and extinction of terrible wolves, the results point to the independent development of very similar traits in terrible wolves and gray wolves, experts say, highlighting the adaptive benefits of a wolf-like body as well as diversity canid forms that once roamed different parts of the world

That you would have this convergence in body shape despite having such a long period of separation suggests that the wolf body shape is very, very successful and clearly has been around for a very long time, “says the University of Alberta The Anthropological Archaeologist Robert Losey, who was not involved in the terrible wolf paper

But ultimately, these benefits couldn’t prevent the terrible wolf from becoming extinct, the team believes it is possible that incoming canine species and wolves may have outpaced competition from the terrible wolves or spreading diseases that harm climate change may also have played a role says Perri

Dire Wolves

World News – CA – Dire Wolves were real – and even stranger than we thought

Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/science-and-technology/2021/01/dire-wolves-were-real-and-even-stranger-than-we-thought