Game of thrones Author George R.R. Martin didn’t invent terrible wolves, the famous pets that were given to the children of the Starks (even Jon Snow) in the book and TV series. It is a true dog species, but now extinct, that lived from 125,000 years ago to about 9,500 years ago. A new study reveals more about why they weren’t there anymore: Dire wolves couldn’t make terrible little wolves with gray wolves today, even if they wanted to.
“ Despite the anatomical similarities between gray wolves and dire wolves – indicating that they could be related in the same way that modern humans and Neanderthals do – our genetic results show that these two types of wolves are very similar to distant cousins, like humans and chimpanzees, Co-author of the study, Crane Mitchell of the University of Adelaide, said Published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
Gray wolves can mate with other similar animals, including African wolves, canines, wolves, and jackals, but the dire wolves were genetically different from mating with other groups. According to the study, dire wolves separated from the lineages of these wolves nearly 6 million years ago and were nothing but relatives of wolves today.
“While ancient humans and Neanderthals appear to have interbreed, as do gray wolves and modern coyotes, our genetic data did not provide any evidence that dire wolves interbreed with any kind of living dog,” Mitchell said. “All our data indicate that the terrible wolf is the last surviving member of an ancient lineage that differs from all living canines.”
The research was led by Durham University in the United Kingdom, with the help of scientists from the University of Oxford, Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany, the University of Adelaide and the University of California, Los Angeles. The team sequenced the ancient DNA of five terrible wolf fossils from Wyoming, Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee, dating back more than 50,000 years.
The study was the first time ancient DNA was taken from dire wolves, and suggests that the species only evolved in North America for millions of years, and did not migrate as other species do between North America and Eurasia. Since wolves cannot mate with other species, the researchers hypothesized that some of the genetic traits that kept this species alive were not passed on to ancient tusks.
More than 4000 dire wolves have been discovered from Priya Tar Dig In Los Angeles, the study noticed, but scientists don’t know much about the reasons for their disappearance. Gray wolves, also found in the pits, are still present today.