The Dire Wolf, Canis dirus is a carnivorous mammal of the genus Canis and is now extinct. It was most common in North and South America. They lived between the Irvingtonian stage and the Rancholabrean stage of the Pleistocene epoch living 1.80 Ma – 10,000 years ago. They lived for about 1.79 million years.
It is closely related to the Gray Wolf and other sister species but Canis dirus was not the direct ancestor of any species known today. because unlike the Eurasian Gray Wolf, the Dire Wolf evolved on the North American continent with the Coyote.
The Dire Wolf and the Gray Wolf both lived in North America at the same time for about 100,000 years.
The Dire Wolf was bigger than the Gray Wolf, it averaged about 1.5 metres (5 ft) in length and weighed about 110 kg (240 lb).[
There are similarities to the Gray Wolf but there are significant differences between the two. The Gray Wolf had longer, more slender legs, and the grey wolf had a larger skull.
Fossils suggest that the genus Canis diverged from the foxlike Leptocyon in North America 9 to 10 million years in the Late Miocene Epoch. Along with two other genera, Urocyon, and Vulpes.
Canids soon spread to Europe and Asia about 8 million years ago and became the ancestors of modern wolves, jackals, foxes, and the Raccoon Dog. Canids spread to Africa 3 to 5 million years ago (Early Pliocene) and South America (Late Pliocene).
Over the next 9 million years, there was an extensive diversification of the North American wolves. Canis ambrusteri appeared at that time and the Dire Wolf probably evolved from C. armbusteri, with both of them sharing central north america. C. dirus eventually displaced C. armbrusteri, with the latter’s final range shrinking to the area now known as Florida. Meanwhile C. dirus spread out into the territory of C. armbrusteri and moved into Central and South America.
About 300,000 years ago the Grey Wolf (Canis lupus) came over into North America via the Bering Strait land bridge to join the Dire Wolf. Around 16,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age with the arrival of humans in North America, most of the large mammals upon which the Dire Wolf hunted began to disapear. The Dire Wolf couldn’t run as fast as the other wolf species, the Grey Wolf and Red Wolf and could not hunt fast species that was left and had to survive by scavaging. the Dire Wolf and the large mammals were extinct by about 300 years ago.