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Silvershark

Alaska's Bone Crushing Wolves

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Silvershark

The last Ice Age saw wolves with powerful jaws capable of crushing bone roaming Alaska.  A subspecies of the modern grey wolf, the Alaskan wolves were built to tackle much larger prey than their modern relatives.  However the fate of these wolves was the same that hit all of the Ice Age megafauna and this subspecies of wolf became extinct.

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Gatorman

Very cool, i like interesting facts on animals in the ice age thats the age i get to find most of my stuff from, although i dont have bone crushing wolfs here i do have bone crushing bear dogs which are very likely related.

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worthy 55

Was the Dire wolf, part of the bone crushing  group of wolves? ???

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Gatorman

No, it was closely related to the Gray wolf.

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worthy 55
No, it was closely related to the Gray wolf.
In the book ,The Fossil Vertebrates of Florida on page 198 it says that the Dire wolf(Canis Dirus) may have weight as much as 20 percent more than the largest Alaskan wolves did! If you have the book give it a look. ;)

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Harry Pristis
Very cool, i like interesting facts on animals in the ice age thats the age i get to find most of my stuff from, although i dont have bone crushing wolfs here i do have bone crushing bear dogs which are very likely related.

<><><><><><

There were a variety of "bear-dogs" (Family Amphicyonidae) in the Miocene of Florida, some estimated to be the size of a male African lion (about 400 lbs.). This is an extinct family since the Late Miocene. There are no surviving close relatives. In fact, I'd feel safe in saying that my Bassett Hound is a much closer relative to any of the wolves (Family Canidae) than is a bear-dog.

-------Harry Pristis

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Mike Owens

Very cool, i like interesting facts on animals in the ice age thats the age i get to find most of my stuff from, although i dont have bone crushing wolfs here i do have bone crushing bear dogs which are very likely related.

<><><><><><

There were a variety of "bear-dogs" (Family Amphicyonidae) in the Miocene of Florida, some estimated to be the size of a male African lion (about 400 lbs.). This is an extinct family since the Late Miocene.  There are no surviving close relatives.  In fact, I'd feel safe in saying that my Bassett Hound is a much closer relative to any of the wolves (Family Canidae) than is a bear-dog. 

-------Harry Pristis

Harry,

    Thanks for the historical information. Love the photos. Any scull comparison photos available? Sketches? Also, what are the dimensions on the teeth?

And last, but not least, welcome to the forum.

Mike :)

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Gatorman

Welcome to the forum Harry very nice first post  ;)

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Harry Pristis

Thanks for the welcome, fellas.

I am a vertebrate fossil collector, but I like 'em all.

Mike, the differences between dog and bear-dog cranial material (primarily teeth) are disappointingly slight. One fairly distinctive feature of the bear-dogs is the depth of the ramus under the tooth row, but even that is not absolutely diagnostic. The more pronounced differences are in the post-cranial bones.

Analysis of the limb bones suggests that bear-dogs moved more like bears than like canids, hence the common name. Try to imagine a 400-pound flesh-eating panda with huge teeth on one end and a long tail on the other.

Here are some more pix.

-------Harry Pristis

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Gatorman

Wow thanks for the info, I think you may be our resident Bear dog expert  :P

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Harry Pristis

You may well ask, "What did these bear-dogs eat eighteen million years ago?"

The answer is horses, lots of three-toed horses. And camels, a variety of camel species. And oreodonts. And rhinos, the small cursorial rhinos, Menoceras. And whatever else they could catch or scavenge.

-----Harry Pristis

post-1-1190479489_thumb.jpg

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Gatorman

Those are really cool, I would like to find one with a bite mark.

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Guest Cris

Well, this is very interesting indeed.. I look forward to reading any and every post you make on here, Harry... You know your stuff! It's tough to find miocene vertebrate fossil hunting locations around here.. Of all the different species you've listed, I don't think I've come upon any remains of 'em.... Anyways, thanks for all the information... I'm certainly more knowledgeable when it comes to Bear Dogs now. :P ;D

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worthy 55

Welcome to the forum Harry, I love all the info on the bear-dogs and the Dire Wolf. The Dire Wolf is one that is one of my favorites!! 8) 8) Oh are those your finds? 8)

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worthy 55

Dire Wolf and Bear-Dog !! 8) Mike these are all the pictures I could come up with for now. 8) 8)

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Mike Owens

The Bear Wolf is a strange looking creature! I will have to channel my intertest out of my Cretacous mindset to explore other time periods as well! I really enjoy learning of other creatures of our past. One tends to dwell on what is available in their geological location.

Thanks!

Mike

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Harry Pristis

That artist's conception make the Amphicyon (just one genus within the family Amphicyonidae) look a bit cuddly -- not the impression I have. :D

Here is the comparison, side-by-side so to speak, of Amphicyonid claw cores with bear, cat, and dog (wolf). Does this help you, Worthy?

-----Harry Pristis

post-1-1190479885_thumb.jpg

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Gatorman

wow definitely a bulky animal I would imagine it had a lot of power, however its hard to judge whether or not the claws were very sharp, could be this animal was more bear like and used its bulk and teeth to take down prey that would be normally smaller than itself.

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worthy 55

Yes it sure does. It looks to be the ursus claw core. Thank you very much! 8) 8) :)

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Harry Pristis

Well, Anson, that's an interesting question.  Unhappily, many behaviors don't fossilize, so we don't know if Amphicyonids were ambush hunters, or solitary, or pack hunters or opportunistic scavengers.  I suppose this is the sort of information that has to be extrapolated, based on living carnivores that we can observe.  

We know that bears are fast-movers.  We can see how African hyenas hunt.  We know how tigers and some other big cats ambush prey.

We know that Amphicyonids ate a lot of three-toed horses, small camels, and oreodonts.  They probably were not scavenging all of them.  Pack hunting with opportunistic scavenging seems like a reasonable way for them to make a living.  

As with bears, Amphicyonid claws were not retractable; nontheless, bear claws are sharp.  Amphicyonids do not have the special tooth adaptation for crushing bones that hyenas and some Canids (Borophagines) have; nevertheless, their impressive teeth and massive jaw-bone (mandible) suggest that they could eat almost everything.

The Amphicyonids were highly successful--at the top of the food chain--from the Oligocene to Late Miocene here (Pliocene in Eurasia and Africa), then they disappeared.  Maybe they were the victims of competition with the Canids, dogs and wolves and relatives.  We don't know for sure.

I hope this doesn't sound like a lecture.  I'm glad someone is interested.

-----Harry Pristis

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Gatorman
I hope this doesn't sound like a lecture.

Harry this is exactly what this forum is for to discuss, lecture, or debate any topic relating to fossils, excluding of course creationism/evolution that debate is not allowed on this forum, it causes to many problems.

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Silvershark

VERY interesting posts Harry!  ;D

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