STL Science Center

STL Science Center

08 April 2015

Elder Wolves

©Robert Bruce Horsfall
Old illustrations of Dire Wolves, unlike many other fossil animals, are very uniform in their anatomical/morphological aspects. The reason for that is reliant on a pair of items: 1) wolves in general have not changed so much that the morphology of a wolf is fundamentally different from what it was when Dire Wolves roamed the Americas, and 2) the sheer number of Dire Wolf remains is enormous. The latter is probably more important to the scientific community as it means that the number of animals available for study is nearly astronomical, to be a little hyperbolic. This point was not lost on paleontologists or the artists like Charles Knight and Robert Horsfall that created stunning murals and single pieces for museums and collectors in the early days of paleoartistry. These wolves, stuck in the tar pits of La Brea, are depicted in a somewhat classic natural pose for carnivores as they defend a kill. Slightly more ferocious looking than many other Dire Wolves that have been illustrated, this pair is quite charismatic.

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