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Home / Technology / Game of Thrones’ gloomy wolves were real. We now know why they became extinct

Game of Thrones’ gloomy wolves were real. We now know why they became extinct



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In this illustration, a pack of expensive wolves eats a bison, while a pair of gray wolves approach in hopes of cleaning.

Mauricio Antón

Game of Thrones author George RR Martin did not invent gloomy wolves, the animals that were known to be given to the children of the Stark family (even Jon Snow) as pets in the book and TV series. They are a real, but now extinct, dog species that lived from 125,000 years ago to about 9,500 years ago. A new study reveals more about why the creatures are no longer: Dirty wolves could not make small spooky wolf litters with today’s gray wolves, even if they wanted to.

“Despite anatomical similarities between gray wolves and gloomy wolves – suggesting that they may be related in the same way as modern humans and Neanderthals – our genetic results show that these two wolves are much more like distant cousins, like humans. and chimpanzees., “said University of Adelaide’s Kieren Mitchell, co-author of the study, published Wednesday in the journal Nature.

Gray wolves can also breed with other similar animals, including African wolves, dogs, coyotes and jackals, but spooky wolves were too genetically different to mate with the other groups. According to the study, expensive wolves split from these wolves almost 6 million years ago and were only a distant relative of today’s wolves.

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In a scene from HBO’s Game of Thrones, Tormund Giantsbane and Jon Snow’s gloomy wolf, Ghost, watch Jon ride.

Helen Sloan / HBO

“While ancient humans and Neanderthals appear to have interfered, as have modern gray wolves and coyotes, our genetic data provided no evidence that terrifying wolves interfered with any living dog species,” Mitchell said. “All our data indicate that the eerie wolf is the last surviving member of an ancient genus that is different from all living canines.”

The research was led by Durham University in the UK, with the help of researchers at the University of Oxford, Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany, the University of Adelaide and UCLA. The team sequenced the ancient DNA of five dreaded wolf sub-fossils from Wyoming, Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee, dating back over 50,000 years.

The study was the first time ancient DNA was obtained from gloomy wolves, and it suggested that the species evolved only in North America for millions of years, and does not migrate as other species do between North America and Eurasia. Because the wolves could not cross off with other species, the researchers postulate that some of the genetic traits that kept these species alive were not handed down to the old canines.

The study notes over 4,000 spooky wolves from La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, but researchers do not know much about the reasons why they disappeared. Gray wolves, also found in the pits, still exist today.


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