Dire Wolf Fossil Toe Bone
Canis dirus Pleistocene, FL
Bone is 4 ” long
Canis dirus, the dire wolf, is the largest species in the genus Canis, with an estimated mass of 130 to 150 pounds (60-70 kg) (Anyonge and Roman, 2006; Wang et al., 2008). This is about 25% heavier than the modern gray wolf, Canis lupus. Overall, compared to most other extinct and extant members of Canis, the dire wolf had a larger body size, a wider and taller skull with a great sagittal crest and extension in the back (posterior) of the skull, a thickening of the mandible below the carnassial teeth (upper fourth premolar and lower first molar), and the carnassials were slightly larger and more massive (Kurtén, 1984; Anyonge and Baker, 2006).
These features gave the dire wolf larger and more powerful jaw muscles, which enabled it to be quite efficient at capturing and killing prey. Also, dire wolves had shorter limbs relative to body mass and would have been stockier than most other wolves. While this means that they were poorer runners compared to modern wolves or coyotes, they would still have been active pursuit predators, and not limited to ambush-style attacks. Like most dogs and wolves, Canis dirus undoubtedly chewed and gnawed on bones. But it lacks the specialized bone-crushing adaptations found in the skulls and teeth of hyenas and Borophagus (Anyonge and Baker, 2006)