The huge, bone-crushing species of gruesome wolves that raged in North America until around 12,000 years ago were once thought to be closely related to living wolves.
That depiction was promoted by the HBO television series “Game of Thrones”, which offered what is now believed to be a fairly accurate depiction of extinct animals. He was famously the symbol of House Stark, known for his residence in the cold northern lands of Westlando, the mythical world of George RR Martin.
In real life, however, prehistoric nomadic wolves were not closely related to modern wolves, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature – and it seems that they were not adapted to the cold.
“I certainly don’t think the average terrifying wolf is excited about living in frozen Winterfell,” said Angela Perry, a zoo at the University of Durham, United Kingdom, and lead author of the study, Winterfell House’s ancestral palace. Utter
Scientists looked after white wolves and other related species with ghoul wolves, as most living canid (dog-like) species – coyotes, jackals and domestic dogs. But the new study suggests that the terrifying wolves belonged to an ancient lineage so different from other canids that they were not interconnected.
And if they don’t get entangled, researchers argue, nomadic wolves may be unable to get symptoms to help them survive the rapidly changing environment at the end of the last ice age – over time they went extinct. .
“Horse wolves just don’t have the ability to adapt right now,” Parry said.
Other reasons for his disappearance may be the extinction of many of his prey species in a warming environment, such as horses, camels, and mammoths – possibly some of them in the hands of early Americans, who arrived about the same time. Or it could be that terrifying wolves succumbed to diseases brought by other wolves and coyotes species that had developed in Eurasia, she said.
Severe wolf fossils have been found in many places throughout North and South America, mostly in lowland and warm climates. Perry said he thinks real-life sinister wolves may have shorter coats suited to warmer weather rather than the thick shaggy fur depicted in the fictional weather series.
“I doubt Nyeria, ghost and lady [three of the dire wolves in “Game of Thrones”] She is one of the more hot-adapted candidates, resembling the dhole, ”she said, referring to a species also known as the Asian wild dog that has a short coat.
Parry and his colleagues spent years collecting potential samples of ancient DNA from sinister wolf fossils, which have been found at about 150 archaeological sites.
Co-author Laurent Frantz, a professor of palynogenetics at Ludwig Maximilian University Munich in Germany, said the study used ancient fossils, which were recovered from the teeth and dense ear-bones of five fossils.
Comparing ancient DNA to genetic material from other candes, he found that the closest living relatives of the fierce wolf were African jackals, which were divers about 5.1 million years ago, while the closest living wolves diverged about 5.7 million years ago.
“It would be a lot longer than we thought,” Frantz said. “We were thinking more in thousands of years.”
It is likely that the ancestors of stray wolves have been captured in America before the last ice age, and that nomadic wolves have evolved alone over millions of years while the gray wolf (Canis lupus) evolved in Eurasia and relatively recently in the Americas Came, probably within the last 50,000 years, he said.
“This is a fascinating result,” said Robert Dundas, a vertebrate paleontologist and professor at California State University, Fresno, who has researched ice age mammals and was not involved in the study.
The horrifying wolves did not interfere with other species, unlike nearly all living candles that may have implications for their extinction reasons, he said.
“Animals that were interconnected … may have had some kind of selective advantage,” he said.
Marin Balsey, a paleontologist at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, who has worked with wolf fossils from La Braque Tar pits, said new research calls for reconsideration.
“There is a lot of behavior of wolves that we speculate was the underlying assumption that the gray wolf is their closest living relative,” she said. “But it shows that it is not so.”
Nevertheless, it is likely that nomadic wolves were a pack animal like brown wolves, and not solitary predators like foxes. One reason is that some of the terrible wolf fossils of La Brek show are healed from debilitating injuries like broken bones, which suggests that their packs supplied them with food when they could not hunt.
The tar pits on La Brea are a hotspot for nomadic wolves where more than 4,000 of their fossils have been found since excavations began in the early 20th century.
“It would be lucky to have a sample size of 10 for a certain species, but we have been lucky,” said Balasi. “It was inauspicious for the animal, but fortunate for paleontologists.”