The study suggests that prehistoric terrible wolves looked different from those in Game of Thrones.

The bone-crushing giant species of the dire wolves that roamed North America until approximately 12,000 years ago were thought to be closely related to live wolves.

This portrayal was reinforced by HBO’s “Game of Thrones” TV series, which presented what he was thought to be Reasonably accurate portrayal It is now extinct animals. They are best known as the symbol of the Stark House, known to inhabit the cold northern lands of the legendary George R.R. Martin world of Westeros.

However, in real life, the terrible prehistoric wolves weren’t closely related to modern wolves, according to a study Published Wednesday in the journal Nature – And it looks like it might not have been a perfect fit for the cold.

“I definitely don’t think the ordinary terrible wolf would have been excited to live in frigid Winterfell,” said Angela Perry, an animal archaeologist at Durham University in the United Kingdom and lead author of the study. Winterfell is the ancestral castle of the House. Stark.

Scientists hypothesized that dire wolves mate with gray wolves and other related species, as most (canine-like) living species can – including coyotes, jackals, and Domestic dogs. But the new study reveals that dire wolves belong to an ancient lineage that is very different from other dogs that did not mate.

Researchers argue that if they did not mate, dire wolves may be unable to acquire traits to help them survive in rapidly changing environments at the end of the last Ice Age – around the time they became almost extinct.

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“Terrible wolves didn’t seem to have the capacity to adapt,” Berry said.

Other reasons for their disappearance could be the extinction of many of their prey species in the warm environment, such as horses, camels and mammoths – some of them possibly at the hands of The first Americans, Which arrived around the same time. Or, dire wolves may have fallen victim to diseases caused by other species of wolves and wolves that have evolved in Eurasia, she says.

Dire wolves were a prominent prehistoric predator in North America. They were larger than modern gray wolves – about half again – and had a sting that could crush a bone.John Campbell Myriam / via The National Museum of America

Terrible coyote fossils are found in many locations throughout North and South America, most of them in lowlands and in warm climates. Perry said she believes that dire wolves in real life might have donned short coats suitable for warm weather, rather than the thick, shaggy fur portrayed in the fantasy TV series.

“I doubt Nymeria, Ghost and Lady [three of the dire wolves in “Game of Thrones”] You will look more like one of the most warm-adapting dog types, like dholes, ”referring to a species also known as the Asian Wild Dog that has a short coat.

Perry and her colleagues spent years collecting potential samples of ancient DNA from fossils of dire wolves, which have been found at nearly 150 archaeological sites.

Co-author Laurent Frantz, professor of paleontology at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, said the study used ancient DNA extracted from teeth and dense ear bones for five of the fossils.

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By comparing ancient DNA with genetic material from other dogs, they found that the closest relative of the terrible wolf was the African jackal, which diverged about 5.1 million years ago, while the closest living wolves diverged about 5.7 million years ago.

“This is much longer than we thought,” said Frantz. “We have been thinking more tens of thousands of years.”

It is possible that the ancestors of the dire wolves occupied the Americas before the last Ice Age, and that the dire wolves evolved alone over millions of years while the gray wolf (canis lupus) evolved in Eurasia and migrated to the Americas relatively recently, perhaps within the past 50,000 years, he said.

“This is an amazing finding,” said Robert Dundas, a vertebrate paleontologist and professor at California State University, Fresno, who conducted research on Ice Age mammals and was not involved in the study.

Two terrible wolves fight with a saber-toothed cat over a massive carcass in the La Brea Tar pits in this 1913 illustration.Robert Bruce Horsfall / via Smithsonian Institution

He said finding that dire wolves did not mate with other species, unlike nearly all living dog species, could have implications for the causes of their extinction.

“The animals that were able to mate … probably had some kind of selective advantage,” he said.

Myrine Palese, a paleontologist at the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History, who worked with terrible wolf fossils from Berry tar releasedThe new research calls for a rethink, he said.

“Much of the terrible wolf behavior that we deduced had an implicit assumption that the gray wolf was their closest living relative,” she said. “But that shows that this is not the case.”

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However, it is possible that dire wolves are a herd animal, like gray wolves, and not solitary predators such as foxes. One reason, she said, is that some of the terrible wolf fossils from La Brea show that they have recovered from debilitating injuries such as broken bones, indicating that her pieces provided her with food when she was unable to hunt.

Tar pits at La Brea are a hotspot for dire wolves with more than 4,000 of their fossils have been found since excavations began there in the early 1900s.

“It would be lucky for us to have a sample size of 10 for certain species, but we were lucky,” Palisi said. “It was unlucky for the animal, but lucky for the paleontologists.”

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