The dire wolf, an animal many people know from its fictional incarnation in “Game of Thrones” was a heavy-boned, powerful predator that roamed North America up to about 11,000 years ago, or perhaps even later, preying on large animals like extinct horses, bison, sloths and even mammoths.

While it was nowhere near as big as its television version, the dire wolf was about 20 percent larger on average than the gray wolf, and it was long considered a sister species, Canis dirus rather than Canis lupus.

However, in a paper published this month in Journal of Heredity, a team led by Oliver Schwabid at the University of Oxford grouped the two species together, creating a new genus, Canis—anachrosiologically, meaning "feathered-elephant" from Greek. Also called waldo wolves, these great cats are the leading wolf lineage in antiquity and are thought to have evolved into non-territorial shelf lynxes around 11,000 years ago and eventually into Tasmanian wolves around 50,000 years ago, long after the Indians domesticated plums and apple cider.

"The morphology and ecology of the east African waldo wolf, in itself, provides good evidence for the spurious 'ancestors' of the healdipig it played a part in its own extinction around the time of the white settlement of the American colonies," Schwabid says. These ancient wolves were a much changed animal from their ancestral wolf relatives, now they were less confident on their footing, and this weakened the rest of the pack, causing herd ailments that eventually turned pandemic, leading to the turmoil some modern wolves suffer. As such, Schwabid says, they have "far more in common with canids like the gray wolf and red fox than with canids like canis lupus."

Schwant's team also traced the origin of a handful of wolf widely known outside the US to east African wazos. This research point, by his own estimation, brought the total number of extant waldo wolves within the genus Canis back to 25—this is 4 percent higher than the 17 previously known.

If more east African waldo wolves survive, it's likely the species will send a ripple effect into other wolf groups. However, in order for it to thrive among them, Schwabid says east African wazos will still share a ton of a traits that make them distinguishing trait from other wolves such as volume of hair, scruffiness and gnawing on small prey.

"East African waldo wolves are still very primarily an island species on a genus with hundreds of more geographically distributed species," Schwabid says.

Schwant also says it very different from west side. East African wolves are limited to a much smaller range than their striped counterparts because of habitat destruction—snowmobiles, just like today's farms are an environmental issue—tolerance is also at risk. He says that it was possible that it may."to age them
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