Dire wolf (Aenocyon dirus (Leidy, 1858))
Temporal range: during the late Pleistocene (North America)
Dimensions: length - 1,6 m, height - 85 сm, weight - 90 kg
Aenocyon dirus (Canis dirus) or «dire» wolf - one of the largest canine that ever lived on the Earth and the largest representative of the subfamily of wolf (Caninae). «Dire» wolves were at their sizes like a large modern gray wolves (Canis lupus) and weighed, depending on gender and individual differences, 55 to 80 kg. Morphologically Aenocyon dirus were very similar to modern wolves, but these two species are not as closely related as it may seem at first sight. Homeland gray wolves - Eurasia, and the «dire» wolf as a type formed in North America. So genetically «dire» wolf closer to the coyote (natives of America), rather than the gray wolf. «dire» wolf has differed from his gray neighbor with his head, a few larger to the body. The molar teeth of this predator were more massive than those of modern wolves. In general, the skull of this species looks like a very large skull of an ordinary wolf. Being stronger and overweight animals, therefore, less hardy, they can hunt very large prey, while a frisky gray wolves attacked the swift-footed prey.
Perhaps the «dire» wolves were less social than gray. Among the subfamilies of wolf (Caninae) truly schooling animal is the gray wolf. As related to him coyote, «dire» wolf is likely to create a small family groups, but not as large flocks like modern wolves.
Species of Aenocyon dirus finally disappeared with the extinction of the mammoth megafauna about 10 thousand years ago.