A to Z Challenge – D for Dire Wolves

Hi all,

Jon-Snow-and-His-Direwolf-GhostAnyone else a fan of Game of Thrones? Since it’s back this month (squee!) it seemed only right to devote a day to Dire wolves. The sigil of House Stark, the Westeros direwolves are certainly impressive. An adult direwolf is as large as a small horse, and can rip a man’s arm from its socket. Even a juvenile direwolf is quite capable of killing a man by ripping out his throat. Physically they are not simply larger versions of wolves, but have slightly different proportions than their smaller cousins; their heads are larger with a leaner, more pronounced muzzle, their legs are longer in proportion to their body, and they have proportionately larger teeth that are often used to crush bones.

They are also very intelligent and extremely loyal, protecting their family and their ‘masters’ without hesitation. Several of the Starks have been saved by their wolf companions.

Mammoths & dire wolves

Did you know that dire wolves were a real species though? They lived mainly in the Americas, from around 1.5 million years ago to 10,000 years ago. Although nowhere near as huge as Martin’s wolves, they were still bigger and more muscular than their counterpart gray wolves, with a much stronger bite. They existed mainly on prey like horses and bison, but as a pack could take down giant sloths and even mammoths. They co-existed with the sabre-toothed tiger, one of their main competitors for prey.

Sadly the dire wolf became extinct after the last ice age ended. They were adapted for cold weather, their size and huge coats helping them to retain heat. With the ice thawing, smaller and faster animals gained an advantage, and with the loss of many of its prey and the rise of the smaller gray wolf the dire wolf slowly died out.

summer-game-of-thrones-direwolves-34317098-954-536If you were disappointed to never be able to see a dire wolf in real life, don’t despair just yet! The American Altisan Breeder’s Association has been combining various dog breeds in order to bring back ‘the look’ of the dire wolves. The results have been described as calm, shaggy and ‘distinctly wolfie’. That might be me sold 😉

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Take care x