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In North America during the late Pleistocene, a pack of horrific wolves feed on their bison kill as a pair of gray wolves approach in hopes of scavengersCredit: Mauricio Antón / Nature

Extinct terrifying wolves made famous on the Game of Thrones TV show are just distant cousins ​​of modern gray wolves, according to DNA analysis

New research published in the journal Nature shows that terrible wolves split off from other wolves nearly six million years ago

Direwolves were in North America until about 13 years ago000 years ago, after which they died out. The carnivores of the Ice Age would have eaten large mammals like bison

The prehistoric predators were believed to be closely related to gray wolves based on analysis of their teeth and body shapes, but this study shows that terrible wolves were actually very different from other dog species and the species were unable to to cross with each other

The research was led by Durham University together with scientists from the University of Oxford, Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany, the University of Adelaide in Australia and the University of California at Los Angeles in the USA

This is the first time ancient DNA has been successfully sequenced from horrific wolves, and it shows a complex picture

The main author, Dr Angela Perri, of Durham University’s Archaeological Department, says, “Dire Wolves have always been an icon of the last Ice Age in America and now a pop culture icon thanks to Game of Thrones, but what we know of their evolutionary history was limited to what we can tell by the size and shape of their bones and teeth

‘With this first ancient DNA analysis of terrible wolves, we showed that the history of the terrible wolves we thought we knew – especially a close relationship with gray wolves – is actually much more complicated than previously thought

‘Rather than being closely related to other North American canids such as gray wolves and coyotes, we discovered that terrible wolves represent a branch that split off from others millions of years ago and is the last part of a now extinct lineage’

The team sequenced the ancient DNA of five subfossils of terrible wolves from Wyoming, Idaho, Ohio, and Tennessee that were discovered over 50 years ago000 years ago

Dr Selina Brace, an old DNA expert at the museum, was part of the collaboration when she advised the team on drilling rock bones for terrible wolves so the team could extract the bone powder they needed to find the terrible wolf DNA

She says, ‘It’s fantastic to be part of such an international collaboration where so many researchers and institutions come together, it’s not often that ancient DNA meets Game of Thrones fantasy and I was thrilled to have one To contribute to supporting such a brilliant research project ‘

Unlike many canid species that appear to have migrated repeatedly between North America and Eurasia over time, terrible wolves have evolved exclusively in North America for millions of years

Although there are at least 10When fatal wolves intersected with coyotes and gray wolves for 000 years before they became extinct, the team found no evidence that they intermingled.The researchers suspect that their profound evolutionary differences meant that they were likely ill-equipped to cope with Adapt the end of the Ice Age to changed conditions

It means that terrible wolves are getting a new scientific name that changes from Canis dirus, which means fearsome dog, to Aenocyon dirus, which means terrible wolf

The co-lead author Dr Says Kieren Mitchell of Adelaide University, “Gloomy wolves are sometimes portrayed as mythical creatures – giant wolves frolicking in desolate, frozen landscapes – but the reality is even more interesting

‘Despite anatomical similarities between gray wolves and terrible wolves – suggesting they may be related in the same way as modern humans and Neanderthals – our genetic results show that these two species of wolves are much more like distant cousins , like humans and chimpanzees … all of our data suggests that the terrible wolf is the last surviving member of an ancient line that is different from all living canines’

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Dire Wolf

World news – USA – DNA of the old terrible wolf analyzed for the first time – with surprising results

Source: https://www.nhm.ac.uk/discover/news/2021/january/ancient-dire-wolf-dna-analysed.html