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Extinct Dire Wolves Could Be Resurrected.

The Stark family in "Game of Thrones" is represented by direwolves, a mythical wolf-like dog that is the size of a small horse. This season Arya Stark's direwolf, Nymeria, makes an appearance in the second episode and is one of the last two remaining direwolves in the series. But are the hulking pets real?

Dire wolves were, in fact, real and roamed large swaths of North America during the Ice Age. The real-life version is spelled dire wolf - as opposed to direwolves, the creations in George R.R. Martin's book series - and wasn't as large as its fictitious cousins. Dire wolves are extinct, but one family in Oregon is trying to bring them back - as pets.

(http://www.ibtimes.com/game-thrones-daenerys-targaryen-mother-dragons-may-die-soon-2569762) READ: (http://www.ibtimes.com/game-thrones-daenerys-targaryen-mother-dragons-may-die-soon-2569762)  Game Of Thrones' Daenerys Targaryen, 'Mother Of Dragons', May Die Soon

Lois Schwarz is the founder of the Dire Wolf Project. She is attempting to breed dogs that look like prehistoric dire wolves but are much more family friendly than their pack-hunting ancestors, according to the (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/07/31/dire-wolves-were-real-now-someone-is-trying-to-resurrect-them/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-national%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.6c6d8142d12f) Washington Post Monday. The breed she is developing is called the American Alsatian, and her project began way before the phenomenon that is "Game of Thrones."

She first developed the idea in 1987. The breeds Schwartz has so far combined in creating her "dire wolves" are German Shepherds, Malamutes, English Mastiffs, Great Pyrenees, Anatolians and Irish Wolfhounds. The project uses neither actual wolves nor dogs more directly derived from wolves for breeding because of their temperaments, which tend to be less suited for making good pets.

"So I thought, everybody wants the wolf look; I'm going to work on the wolf look, but I'm also going to work on the temperament and the character of the dog to fit a companion dog," Schwarz told the Post.

The stated goal of the project is "(being) dedicated to the creation of the exact bone structure of the Dire Wolf in a loving companion dog."

Dire wolves existed between 125,000 and 9,000 years ago and resembled modern-day gray wolves. They weighed between 130 and 150 pounds and could grow to six feet long. They are believed to have hunted in packs. A large number of dire wolf fossils were found at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, California, which afforded scientists the resource to learn about them. They roamed all over what is now the United States, up to Canada and as far south as Bolivia.

The dogs Schwarz breeds aren't white like the direwolves in "Game of Thrones," but rather gray, brown and shaggy. She is still experimenting with breeding to perfect the American Alsatian's intended look. And while the dog isn't an exact replica of its digitally animated "Game of Thrones" counterpart, there is still a large number of people interested in the creature. According to the Post, there are a nearly 200 people interested in purchasing dogs from the Schwarz and her daughter.

(http://www.ibtimes.com/game-thrones-sequels-not-coming-hbo-until-least-2020-2571484) READ: 'Game Of Thrones' Sequels Not Coming To HBO Until At Least 2020?

But while demand is high for the American Alsatian, Schwarz does warn on her website her dogs need a loving home and aren't just a novelty.

"("Game of Thrones") has spurred an interest in the Dire Wolf and in turn the American Alsatian. We applaud viewers who have taken the time to research the Dire Wolf instead of assuming the wolves on the film resemble the Gray Wolf's extinct prehistoric cousin. It is a fictitious story after all," reads a statement for the Dire Wolf Project.
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Jul 31, 2017
Words:622
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