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Date: October 1, 2017

From: Rafael Zilberdrut
Subject: History of Direwolves
Distribution List: Dan and Dave, George RR Martin, HBO execs, HBO newsletter

Dire wolves were once roaming the Earth as one of the top predators. They went
extinct but their legacy lives on. On Game of Thrones we see the Stark family take in a
litter of direwolf pups. The direwolf is the sigil for House Stark and the dire wolves are
protectors to the Stark children. I wanted to let you guys know that dire wolves were
real and how we can portray dire wolves in the show more to be like the dire wolves of
the ice age.

Dire wolves existed long ago during the last ice age. They were similar to grey wolves
of present day but were more brutal in nature. They are half the size of the dire wolves
depicted in Game of Thrones, but they have similar features that made them a top tier
predator. The relatively large size of the extinct dire wolf made it hard to hunt smaller
prey. Therefore, when their main prey like Mastodons became extinct, grey wolves
became the most dominant.
History of Dire Wolves
The dire wolf (Canis dirus) existed during the last ice age. They are slightly larger than
present days grey wolf. Despite being about the same length as the gray wolf, C. dirus
exceeded its modern cousin (Canis lupus) in weight by roughly 25 percent, which
means members of the extinct species weighed somewhere between 125 and 175
pounds. (mentalfloss) They would have appeared bigger overall looking more broad
and muscular but were not very fast which was more due to their slightly shorter legs.
Dire wolves had very powerful jaws which are estimated to be 129% stronger than 21st
century wolves by paleontologist, Francois Therrien. They roamed around North
America and parts of South America. Their remains were found often in the La Brea Tar
Pits in California. They occasionally hunted sloths and mastodons but their diet mostly
consisted of bison and horse. Experts say that they avoided smaller prey because dire
wolf packs would require large amounts of food and hunting larger animals supplied the
pack with enough food (direwolfproject). The downfall of hunting large prey was that
dire wolves would get severely injured. There is evidence that perhaps dire wolves had
a pack hierarchy due to bite marks on the heads. They had pack sizes of up to 30 or
more which helped them hunt food and defend from other predators or competition such
as the saber tooth cats.

How DId They Go Extinct?

Researchers believe there are a few reasons for why dire wolves died out. Primarily, the
climate change affected the food chain that dire wolves were part of. When the large prey died
out, the dire wolves had to compete with each other to survive on the remaining herbivores.
They were not able to adapt to hunt smaller, quicker prey, due to their shorter legs and heavier
build. (direwolfproject)
How do the Game of Thrones Direwolves Compare?
The direwolves in HBOs Game of Thrones are massive, vicious, but loyal animals.
The main direwolves are Ghost, Nymeria, Summer, Shaggydog, Lady and Grey Wind.
They were found in the North by the Starks lying with their dead mother. The mother
was killed by a stags horn. The direwolves depicted in the show are huge, at least
double the size of the extinct direwolves. They appear to have massive heads and
stand at the height of a small horse. They lunge directly at their targets and are very
quick, unlike the dire wolves of the ice age. The shows direwolves dont seem to stay as
a pack but follow their given Stark child.

Grey Wolves vs Dire Wolves

Grey wolves are slightly smaller than dire wolves. They were able to out compete them
by being quicker and adapting to smaller prey. Dire wolves were too heavy and their
short legs handicapped them from hunting smaller animals. Grey wolves hunt in packs
of about 7 to 8 on average. They are found mainly in the United States and Canada
and live about 7 to 8 years in the wild or 12 years or more in protected regions
The dire wolves from the ice age are very closely related to grey wolves that exist today.
The grey wolves were able to live on due to them adapting and just being better built to
hunt the increasingly smaller prey. When you see the direwolves on the show, which of
course are CGI fantasy creatures, we still can see some features that the dire wolves
had adorned.

1. We should increase awareness for wolf conservation since we portray them in
our show. Perhaps a YouTube video that shows snippets from the direwolves in
the show.
2. At the end of the last season, show the direwolves going north of the wall and
finding a pack of their own kind to be part of.
3. Show the direwolves more as their role has become thinned out across the
previous seasons. They can help fight!

Works Cited

10 Fierce Facts About Dire Wolves. Mental Floss, 24 Apr. 2015,

The Dire Wolf Project. Dire Wolf Evolution and Extinction The Dire Wolf Project,

Direwolves. Game of Thrones Wiki,

Basic Facts About Gray Wolves. Defenders of Wildlife, 19 Sept. 2016,

Promoting Wolf Conservation since 1999. Wolf Conservation Center Raquo,