Tech & Science

Were dire wolves real? Canada fossil identified

Canada has its first direwolf.

The Ice Age predator fossils from the TV series ‘Game of Thrones’ have been found in Canada for the first time. The specimen was found near Medicine Hat in southern Alberta and was tentatively identified decades ago. Royal Ontario Museum We used new technology and finally locked it down.

“It’s never been fully explained,” says evolutionary biologist Ashley Reynolds, lead author of the paper published in the Journal of Quaternary Science. “This had never been done to this specimen.”

It wasn’t easy. whole specimen, 25,000 and 50,000consisting of one jaw severely crushed, with some remaining teeth.

“It was immediately clear that it was a canine about the size of a wolf,” Reynolds said.

So it was either a gray wolf or a dire wolf. You can tell by the teeth, but this animal was too old.

“When animals get really old, their teeth start to wear down, and this could mean that their dental features wear away,” said Reynolds.

Although dire wolves tend to be considerably larger than gray wolves, this individual was within the size range of both species. So researchers tried something else.

The team took points along the fossil’s outline and used a computer program to estimate its shape. They compared it to known values ​​for gray and dire wolves.

“Which one is more similar based on the shape pieces we have,” Reynolds said.

This wretched wolf is the northernmost confirmed example of the species ever discovered. At the time, much of what is now Canada was covered by a gigantic ice sheet.

But sometimes the ice recedes, opening up habitat from the Yukon to central and southeastern Alberta, opening the way for unimaginable Ice Age animals in the rolling grasslands along the South Saskatchewan River, where the devastating wolf was found. I handed over the

There were giant sloths, wild horses, camels, mammoths and mastodons. Reynolds’ earlier expedition found sabretooth cats in the same deposits as direwolf.

Confirming the presence of the wretched wolf adds to our picture of what the Ice Age looked like in Canada, Reynolds said.

“We’re starting to take better pictures of the animals that lived in Canada in the past. We’re seeing fauna very similar to what we see even in California.”

However, the region would also have seen a unique mix of Southern and Arctic species. For example, there is some evidence that cave lions may have lived in the area.

Reynolds doesn’t have much to say about the dire wolves she studied.

The seeds were relatively small. Being so old, it must have been a successful wolf. At some point in my life I lost one of my big teeth and had to make it through.

We still have much to learn about Ice Age Canada, Reynolds said.

“Canadian fossils, especially post-dinosaur fossils, are relatively unstudied,” Reynolds said. “We’re really just starting to understand what the landscape looks like.”

This report by the Canadian Press was first published on April 5, 2023.

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