January 20, 2011

Weekly Beast: The Dire Wolf

The Dire Wolf

One of the greatest fossil treasures in the world is the LaBrea Tar Pits in Los Angeles CA. In these sticky pits of bubbling oil the remains of thousands of Ice Age animals have been preserved including mastodons, giant sloth, short-faced bears, and saber-tooth cats. Mixed in with the others were the remains of over 3,600 dire wolves.

These large relatives of both modern gray wolves and dogs were used to living in packs and hunting their large prey together. But these beasts were much bigger than both of their modern cousins. They were also built heavier than wolves we know today with thick bones that seemed to be built more for power than speed. Another thing that sets this ancient wolf apart is the large fangs of its upper jaw that protruded from it's mouth. These powerful predators could have brought down the large bison and mastodons that grazed in their ancient world.

No comments: