The Dire Wolf is an extinct North American species of wolf which was a great deal larger than our wolves of present day.
For about 100,000 years it lived alongside its cousins, the Gray Wolves, although they are not directly linked.
The Dire Wolf was much larger than the Gray Wolf, and in fact was the largest living wild canine. It averaged about 5 feet long and weight about 175 pounds.
Despite their many similarities in appearance, there were many and vast differences between the two species.
The legs of the Dire Wolf were far shorter in comparison to its body than that of the gray wolf. This means that it would have been able to run poorly and sustain speeds for a shorter time.
Probably the Dire wolf was a scavenger, or hunted in packs for much larger prey.
The Dire Wolf had a great deal larger head, but a much smaller brain than the gray wolf also, and it has immense teeth, which researcher suppose the Dire Wolf may have used crush bone.
About 300,000 years ago Gray Wolf crossed into North America using the land bridge provided by the Bering Strait.
Sometime later, about 1000000 years ago, the Dire Wolf also made his appearance in America.
Then about 16,000 years ago near the end of the last Ice Age, and about the time of the arrival of humans in North America, most of the large mammals the Dire Wolf used for prey began to die out.
By 10,000 years ago, the large mammals and the Dire Wolf were extinct, or so it was supposed, however, fossils found in the state of Arkansas in the US, suggest that they lived on, in what is known as a relic population, and were still alive 4000 years ago.
Find out more about the Dire Wolf over at Wikipedia »