Scientists Say: Dire wolf

These wolves exist in the fictional realm of Game of Thrones, but they’re long gone in real life


This is the skeleton of a dire wolf.

James St. John/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-2.0)

Dire wolf (noun, “DIE-er wolf”)

This is a species of wolf (Canis dirus) that lived in North America from about 300,000 to 12,000 years ago. Fossils from these animals suggest that dire wolves could have weighed as much as 67 kilograms (148 pounds) and grow up to 1.8 meters (or 6 feet) long. That makes them similar in size to the largest of modern wolves. Don’t expect to ever run across one, though. Dire wolves are now extinct.

In a sentence

The remains of more than 4,000 dire wolves have been found among the many fossils preserved in the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, Calif.

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Bethany Brookshire was a longtime staff writer at Science News Explores and is the author of the book Pests: How Humans Create Animal Villains. She has a Ph.D. in physiology and pharmacology and likes to write about neuroscience, biology, climate and more. She thinks Porgs are an invasive species.

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