Technology

Were 'Game of Thrones' dire wolves real? Here's why the beasts went extinct and they looked way different


The iconic and terrifying dire wolf, made famous in the television series ‘Game of Thrones', prowled through North America until about 11,000 years ago or perhaps more, after which they went extinct.


The ancestors of the gray wolf and the much smaller coyote evolved in Eurasia and are thought to have moved into North America less than 1.37M years ago, relatively recently in evolutionary time.


An international team sequenced the ancient DNA of five dire wolf sub-fossils from Wyoming, Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee, dating back to over 50,000 years ago.


Their deep evolutionary differences meant that they were likely ill-equipped to adapt to changing conditions at the end of the ice age, explains the report published in Nature.


The team sequenced the ancient DNA of five dire wolf sub-fossils from Wyoming, Idaho, Ohio, and Tennessee, dating back to over 50,000 years ago (Getty Images)“Dire wolves have always been an iconic representation of the last ice age in the Americas and now a pop culture icon thanks to ‘Game of Thrones', but what we know about their evolutionary history has been limited to what we can see from the size and shape of their bones and teeth.


It is commonly thought that because of its body size — larger than gray wolves and coyotes — the dire wolf was more specialized for hunting large prey and was unable to survive the extinction of its regular food sources.






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