Monday, September 28, 2009

Dire wolf

Here's another interesting little thing I found out. Although GIS hasn't really given me a great picture of one, I recently discovered that the dog breed called the Alsatian Shepalute, which is bred to be a big, companionable dog, has also been bred to resemble the dire wolf in skeletal morphology and structure, as much as possible.

Of course, dire "wolf" may not have been wolf-like at all, really. It's a separate species under the same genus Canis, but so are plenty of other animals including the red wolf, the coyote, various jackals, the dingo, and for that matter, the domestic dog. They also don't all have the same ancestry; it's presumed that some early representatives of the genus Canis separated in North America, making the red wolf, the dire wolf and the coyote all endemic, but the gray wolf actually evolved in Eurasia and then came into North America through Beringia. Given that, the very specific gray pelt with saddle-like markings over the shoulders that belong to the gray wolf would be difficult to imagine on the dire wolf.

The picture I attached is two possible dire wolf colorations, the left showing a wolf-like coloration, the right showing a more likely coloration scheme based on the dire wolf's ancestry in the southern parts of America and redistribution of the dire wolf in areas that later were only known as the home of the red wolf, the coyote, possibly the eastern wolf (if that is indeed a separate species and not a hybrid of gray and red wolves, or simply a gray wolf subspecies). I like to imagine the dire "wolf" is being tawny in color, shaggier than a wolf, possibly with a darker face, and looking like a big dog. Not unlike, for that matter, a big Alsatian shepalute.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

I hope you are right about the look of the Dire Wolf. Nice article.