What Game of Thrones fan doesn’t remember the young Lymeria, Arya Stark's direwolf attacking Prince Joffrey, or Bran Stark’s Summer quickly disposing of his would be assassin? Since HBO never forgets to boast it’s GOT is currently (supposedly) the most watched television program on earth, probably not many.
Now- who didn’t gasp in awe (and possibly terror) at the reunion of Arya and her older and much...Much larger Canine companion?
Keep that massive Direwolf image in mind while I tell you she is real. She existed. Not in another reality, not another universe, but here on our own earth.
The history of the Dire Wolf
Or rather Dire Wolves are believed to have existed at one point many, many years ago, around the same time what was to become the first ‘dog’ decided to forgo his strenuous pack hunting activities for the simpler scavenger life.
Though long extinct, the first Dire wolf fossil was discovered in 1854 by Francis Linck in Evansville, Indiana; the fossil determined by scientists to belong to a subspecies of the genus Canis never before seen.
Since then, many more Dire Wolf remains have been found, mostly at the La Brea Tar Pits in California and many full skeletons are on display in museums across the United States.
-the Dire Wolf Project
Dominating the Grey wolf (Ancestor to all modern domesticated dogs) in size and strength for years beyond number, it was the smaller predecessor that ultimately survived to give way to the much beloved pets of today. For some reason, the much larger and more powerful Dire wolf became extinct about 10,000 years ago, back when man was still in his infancy.
But why? What kind of sense does that make? Why would such a great giant rule over the old world for roughly 100,000 years, all of a sudden falling victim to a weaker cousin?
Social Psychology & Interaction
Though it is merely speculation, one must consider the sociological behavior of today’s Canis lupus (Grey wolf) in order to form an assumption. Grey wolves are well known to be very socialized ‘pack’ animals, depending upon the structure and interaction of their family unit for survival. In other words- ‘strength in numbers’.
Perhaps the unity of many trumped the strength of the few? No matter the size, one lone Dire wolf is not going to be able to compete at the same level as a pack of 15 or so Grey wolves. Of course, this is just one theory.
Other possible explanations regarding Dire wolf extinction:
- Significant climate change
- Impact of large stellar object (comet)
- Human hunting activities
- Prey/food became scarce
Whatever the answer, we can revel in the truth that such a magnificent creature as the Direwolf of old did once exist!
National American Alsatian Breeder's Association. (2011- 2017). Dire Wolf Evolution and Extinction. The Dire Wolf Project. Retrieved from http://www.direwolfproject.com/dire-wolf/dire-wolf-evolution-and-extinction/