Talk:Dire wolf

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Featured article Dire wolf is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophy This article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on July 17, 2017.
Article milestones
Date Process Result
January 12, 2017 Good article nominee Listed
May 29, 2017 Featured article candidate Promoted
Current status: Featured article


The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

I propose that this article remains about the Dire wolf (Canis dirus) and should not be confused with the direwolf (note the one-word name) that relates to the series of novels forming A Song of Ice and Fire and the television series Game of Thrones. Editors wanting to contribute to the direwolf topic are referred to those articles. Any edits to this Dire wolf page regarding the direwolf will be removed. Please vote either YES or NO. William Harristalk • 10:34, 3 February 2016 (UTC)

  • YES I wholeheartedly agree with this.--Mr Fink (talk) 15:33, 3 February 2016 (UTC)
  • YES I agree, though I'm pretty sure direwolf will be redirected to some GOT related list, and not remain a separate article for long. FunkMonk (talk) 02:05, 4 February 2016 (UTC)
  • YES Strebe (talk) 18:13, 4 February 2016 (UTC)

The consensus WP:CONS is full support for this proposal. It is now implemented. William Harristalk • 04:31, 7 February 2016 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Dire wolf - lead paragraph(s)[edit]

Hello, friends of the dire wolf. I have an interest in the Late Pleistocene wolves. So, over the past year I have gathered together 22 main dirus research articles and many of their supporting works with the intention of significantly correcting and updating the article, which I have just completed. The article has now been restructured similar to the dire wolf's old competitor, "the cat" (Smilodon, of the sabre-tooth variety!). We now need to craft an opening paragraph or two for the start of the article. Does anybody have any preference for what that might look like or what its main focal points should be, please? William Harristalk • 11:45, 28 May 2016 (UTC)

Yes, to put it simply, it should be a summary of the entire article, and should not contain unique information not found in the article body. The length of the intro is determined by the length of the article, so I think it could be at least three paragraphs here. And last, the intro does not need references, as the statements there are supposed to be sourced after their equivalents in the article body. FunkMonk (talk) 11:54, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. (Do you ever sleep, you appear to be some form of omnipotent power that resides on a server somewhere........) William Harristalk • 12:31, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
Hehe, I'm in Scandinavia, so we're probably in quite different time zones (not that I don't stay up late when I get the chance)... FunkMonk (talk) 13:20, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
Given that I am in South Australia, it is a mystery how our paths cross at the same times :-) (I will certainly refer to MOS:LEAD and "the cat" for guidance.) William Harristalk • 21:02, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
And so it ends. I could not resist placing a link to an old foe in the second sentence - somehow it felt right, and eerily that "they both would have wanted that". Please have a read, if there is anything that needs further work or elaboration please give me a call. I expect that Strebe will, at some time in the future, fix my incorrect spelling and split infinitives.......... Regards, William Harristalk • 22:56, 28 May 2016 (UTC)
I think it looks quite good. Just too bad we don't have better quality photos... FunkMonk (talk) 11:36, 29 May 2016 (UTC)
A whole-genome sequence would be even better! William Harristalk • 12:19, 29 May 2016 (UTC)
On that note, a code cladogram with links might be nice. Seems the current cladogram image has been lifted straight from a non-free article and given a false license... FunkMonk (talk) 12:46, 29 May 2016 (UTC)
Done. Did you want to follow up and tag it for deletion? William Harristalk • 10:15, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
Yep:[1] FunkMonk (talk) 13:27, 30 May 2016 (UTC)
The article looks quite solid now, I think, if you want to take it further, I think that for at least FAC, you might have to standardise the citations more, so that for example all years are in parenthesis, all first names are either initials or spelled out, etc. Also, a bit puzzling that there is little description of its body apart of the skull? Is this because the body is similar to that of other canids? If not, any unique features should be mentioned. FunkMonk (talk) 21:58, 31 May 2016 (UTC)
As with most fossils, the skull usually remains long after other bones have dissolved away - the skull is more commonly found. I intend to take a break from the Dire wolf for a while, I am a little worn from it and other editors with a watch on it are probably tiring of my daily edits as well. There is a seminal paper about to be released in the next day or so on the origin and domestication of the dog, which is my main interest here on Wikipedia and will then consume my time. Thanks for your advice and guidance over the last month. Regards, William Harristalk • 11:26, 1 June 2016 (UTC)
Good luck! And there are of course plenty of other fossil canids to work on... FunkMonk (talk) 17:16, 1 June 2016 (UTC)
A personal musing. If you read the short section at Subspecies of Canis lupus#Wolf population differences (more of my stuff!), there is a growing body of recent research that supports the absolutely amazing degree of lupus cranio-dental plasticity as it adapts to different ecological environments. From our article, it would appear that there is little difference between dirus and a large lupus apart from 4 out of 15 cranio-dental aspects. I would not be surprised if one day a DNA analysis shows Pleistocene lupus - of some form or another - as the ancestor of dirus. I found the suspected Beringian wolf (DNA analysis yet to confirm) remains recently found in Wyoming, and described by the researchers as being between a grey wolf and a dire wolf, very interesting. Regards, William Harristalk • 09:55, 2 June 2016 (UTC)
Interesting, if the recent mammoth results are anything to go by, everything we know about Ice Age mammal interrelationships based solely on morphologly is wrong... I guess we would get Canis lupus dirus then? FunkMonk (talk) 12:42, 2 June 2016 (UTC)
Unless there has been enough change to warrant the recognition of a speciation event. That would be up to the morphologists and geneticists to argue over - the ongoing contention we have in species recognition by phenotype vs genotype. William Harristalk • 22:00, 2 June 2016 (UTC)
More drama in this regard, FunkMonk. All hell has broken loose on the Red wolf, Eastern wolf and Coyote pages - a whole-genome study indicates that the Red wolf and Eastern wolf are gray wolf/coyote hybrids (as we thought) but also the the extant wolf and the extant coyote diverged only 52,000 years ago (between 6-117,000 YBP)!! DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501714 Regards,   William Harris |talk  11:24, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
Ouch! I guess having separate pages for all is still valid, as they seem to form differentiated populations? FunkMonk (talk) 19:14, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
Yes, and although changes have been initiated on those pages by some editors, I think that it is still early days yet. I would have stated "In 2016, one study indicated..." rather than state it as a widely accepted fact. Next, we will either see either its support or reasons for its refutation. Regards,   William Harris |talk  20:52, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
Yep. Any edit-wars yet? FunkMonk (talk) 22:23, 1 August 2016 (UTC)
There was shock and dismay on the red and eastern wolf pages - no separate species, but hybrids. There was some initial dog-fighting on the Coyote page, but the 3 protagonists were long-known to each other and respected around the Canis pages, so it settled fairly quickly. We are seeing across the mammals a very real conflict between what the geological strata/fossil record says, and what the genetics tells us. It remains unclear of we have a timing issue, or a technology issue. Regards,   William Harris |talk  11:36, 2 August 2016 (UTC)

Taxobox image[edit]

The current taxobox photo has long irked me since it is low res, dark, and pixelated, but I just saw two free high res photos of skeletons have been uploaded to Flickr:[2][3] Could they be contenders for a new taxobox photo? FunkMonk (talk) 19:23, 16 January 2017 (UTC)

A much better image. You can really appreciate that biter's teeth! Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 19:43, 18 January 2017 (UTC)
Any interest in this one? File:Canisdirusskull.jpg Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 04:21, 29 January 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, I was thinking a colour-photo of a skull could be nice, but that one seems a bit unsharp? There are also these on Flickr:[4][5][6][7] FunkMonk (talk) 09:46, 29 January 2017 (UTC)
I concur, and number 8 - the last one - has the best shot for showing full dentition, which is what differentiates C. dirus from other Canis. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 11:01, 29 January 2017 (UTC)
Alright, here it is[8], and note it is the same skeleton as shown in the taxobox. FunkMonk (talk) 11:03, 29 January 2017 (UTC)
Would you like to place it in the taxabox and move the current skeleton elsewhere on the page? Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 09:36, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
Isn't it better to show as much of the animal as possible in the beginning of the article? That's what I attempt to do in the articles I work on, at least. FunkMonk (talk) 09:39, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
I am OK with that. I will drop it in near dentition somewhere. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 09:43, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
The juxtaposition with the skull diagram looks good to me! FunkMonk (talk) 10:03, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
Yes, it works well. I might even consider going for Featured Article in a little while. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 10:07, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
Could be a nice move, if only because that makes more people guard the page from vandalism. I could maybe recommend requesting a copyedit[9], to make the text even clearer for layreaders. FunkMonk (talk) 10:35, 30 January 2017 (UTC)
I am the first to admit that my sentence structure is most likely a little too complex for the average Wikipedia reader. I bow to your greater experience in these matters, and if that is the next step towards FA then I shall initiate. The Guild has a backlog of around one month in length. That should help get us a long way towards A-class. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 19:37, 31 January 2017 (UTC)
May not be necessary for you, since you are a native Anglophone, but I do it for every article I nominate. Apart from better flow, it can also move the wording farther away from that of the sources, which is a good thing. Oh, and I just came across this interesting blog post by fossil mammal artist Mauricio Antón about restoring the dire wolf, which may be of interest:[10] FunkMonk (talk) 09:13, 1 February 2017 (UTC)
At the top of the article, there is a hyperlink in the poster's name - chasingsabretooths - that will take you to an index of their other postings. A remarkable collection. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 10:10, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, along with Jay Matternes and Mark Hallet, he's one of the best prehistoric mammal artists alive. Some of his illustrations have been published in CC licensed papers[11], so if we're lucky, we might get some of his canids to use here one day... FunkMonk (talk) 10:16, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
It is unfortunate he included snow in a number of his works - there was no snow across the Mammoth steppe, it was far too dry. However, even those are remarkable. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 10:25, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
Yeah, but it would have snowed during winter in any case, no? FunkMonk (talk) 10:28, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
It would appear not - dry steppic grasslands with most of the "spare" moisture locked in the glaciation. I wonder how the mammals, including our ancestors, reacted to going from dry and cold (around +-5 degrees) that is manageable with fur, to wet and cold (+-10 degrees) with wet fur - the coming of the cold rain and snow must have been an environmental shock. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 22:35, 5 February 2017 (UTC)
Hmm, I have seen some conflicting statements on this, this study, for example, suggests that woolly mammoths used a skin fold on their trunk to melt snow:[12][13] Sounds a bit far fetched, but at least it shows that some scientists believe there was occasional snow in their environment? --FunkMonk (talk) 11:30, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
One would assume so from that statement, although I am sometimes amazed at how some papers have not done a thorough review from all angles. That is why I like to read the results of multi-discipline research teams. It could be that they had a team of mammoth experts but with no paleoclimatologist in their group to advise on the conditions on the mammoth steppe. Else, they got some advice that led to that conclusion. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 20:08, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Dire wolf (D&D)[edit]

Should Dire wolf (Dungeons & Dragons) be included in a "See also" link, in an "in popular culture" section, as a "distinguish" tag, or not at all? (I actually was trying to look this up and came to the article for the real animal as a result.) Sorry if this has already been discussed. DarjeelingTea (talk) 17:31, 4 February 2017 (UTC)

Perhaps a Dire wolf (disambiguation) page could be created for links to all these pop culture references. FunkMonk (talk) 22:53, 4 February 2017 (UTC)
Hello DarjeelingTea, I asked a very similar question exactly one year ago. It lead to some growling and biting - I still have the scars - then ended in the agreement at the top of this page under the heading "direwolf". The short answer is no, however as Funkmonk advises above, you could create a disamb page and link any number of related articles from it. If you need a hand, you can reach me on my talk page. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 10:18, 5 February 2017 (UTC)

Canis dirus lupus?[edit]

Brace yourselves, Direwolf aficionados. Researchers have recently found the unthinkable in Idaho - remains of Dire wolf/Beringian wolf hybrids: I assume the research paper will be released later this year. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 11:11, 10 February 2017 (UTC)

Ouch, will we get a situation as confusing as that between woolly and Columbian mammoths? FunkMonk (talk) 11:14, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
I am not sure, but I think we will need to accept that some very strange things have happened over the last 50,000 years in North America regarding big "bitey" wolves with megafaunal adaption. I have not heard of anybody extracting Dire wolf DNA; this group must have some. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 11:19, 10 February 2017 (UTC)
you know.. research found that lupis descends from an african hyena, 3-1m ago. it fled for humans that competed its niche, (small limb bones), as it was called the small toothed (in english i think, "small jawed") hyena. besides it is remarkable how adapted it was when we entered eurasia, and adapted to the wolf, it is funny because you always want things to have started in americas, which , concerning the date range of canus dirus is remarkably doubtful once over. get used to it, everything comes from china, tiktaalik already was a relic. (talk) 01:03, 17 July 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for sharing this information but I already have it covered - please click on this link Evolution of the wolf#Wolf-like canids. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 08:42, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

Copy edits on Dire wolf[edit]

On behalf of the "Dire wolf pack", I thank Corinne, Assistant coordinator, Guild of Copy Editors for the recent review of this article.

Hello FunkMonk, I have a couple of loose ends to tidy up, however I assume the next step in the process is a peer review of the article as outlined at Wikipedia:Peer_review/guidelines? Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 09:38, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
It's a good idea for first time nominators, it can take some time to attract reviewers, but I'll give it a look first, then others will comment as we go along. FunkMonk (talk) 09:57, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks. I have noticed your activities and commentary on the peer-review pages - it will be good to have you review it "as one of us" before it is nominated and you don the mantle of "one of them"! Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 10:18, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
This article is looking vastly improved over the past few months. Thanks to everyone who contributed, especially FunkMonk, Corinne, and most spectacularly, the indefatigable William Harris. Strebe (talk) 17:46, 6 March 2017 (UTC)
Thanks Strebe. We should also thank Adam Cuerden for giving it a hard knock as part of the GA review, and those members of the "Dire wolf pack" who have tirelessly defended this article against vandalism and unconstructive edits (not to mention Game Of Thrones aficionados!) over the years, you for a special mention. We are on a journey towards getting Dire wolf up to Featured Article quality level. Dire wolf will then be at a higher standard, which means that any future edits must also be of a higher standard and this rating will attract more "defenders" to its cause. (I hope you all are not growing tired of my endless edits to this article........) Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 09:57, 7 March 2017 (UTC)

Post FA status[edit]

Hello User:RexxS, you are probably aware of the FAC closing comments of Sarastro1 regarding "alt text", which may have resulted in your recent edit. It is not an area I am familiar with. Are there any images that you believe need further amendment, please or are we good to go? Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 12:15, 30 May 2017 (UTC)

@William Harris: As with most articles, it could benefit from having good alt text on the images. However, when I did the check, I thought that the captions were already quite descriptive, so I wasn't too worried by the lack of alt text. You're right that it resulted in my edit to the small text – hope that made sense. The article's fine.
If you really want to put in the work to provide alt text, you'll need to re-balance what is in the caption with what is in the alt text. Let me do an example for you with File:Wolf dentition in the Ice Age.jpg in the Dire wolf #Tooth breakage section.
  1. First, you want to remove from the caption what a sighted person can already obviously see – in this case, it's obvious that the diagram is "showing functions of the teeth", so that text serves no purpose in the caption. Dentition isn't a common word, so it's probably better linked.
  2. Next, you want to ensure that a screen reader user will get the same information as a sighted person (as far as possible), so you write alt text saying what the diagram shows, something like "Cutting and cracking done by rearmost teeth; chewing by the middle teeth; seizing by the canines near the front of the mouth; and nibbling by the incisors at the front" I'm not sure if those middle teeth are molars, but you can improve that with your expertise.
  3. Finally, if you want to be really kind to visually impaired registered users, you switch image sizes from 200px to |upright=0.9, so that their default thumb size (that can be set in user Preferences) is preserved.
I've made those changes in the article. That image was a particularly easy one to do because it was simple: a skull and four labels. Other images may be similarly amenable to improvement, but some of them may not. There's no deadline, so if you feel like adding some alt text over time, give it a go. You can always ping me for an opinion if you're not sure. Thank you, by the way, for such an informative article. --RexxS (talk) 13:32, 30 May 2017 (UTC)
Thanks for your example and explanation, RexxS, you have made the concept easy to follow. I have discovered WP:ALTIMG and I will amend the pix to aid our visually impaired readers. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 08:40, 31 May 2017 (UTC)


  • I'll use the opportunity to ping Steveoc 86 and Dinoguy2, who have made many high quality size comparison diagrams, to ask if they may be interested in creating one for this article. FunkMonk (talk) 10:23, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Thanks FunkMonk. It would be a good addition to the article, especially with the final series of GOT coming up shortly which I expect will attract another wave of interest here. We can highlight to these visitors that real dire wolves were not the size of lions. I note that the old foe - "the cat" (Smilodon) - has one of these diagrams. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 10:56, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Yep, it was made by Dinoguy too. I'd make one myself, but my diagrams can't compete with those the above gents have created in the past... FunkMonk (talk) 12:34, 31 May 2017 (UTC)
Alright, seems I might have to d it after all if it is to be ready for the big main-date... I'm thinking of using Mariomassone's illustration as basis, and then the usual Pioneer plaque guy for the human. But I am not sure about the exact scaling, what would we think the shoulder height was, William Harris? FunkMonk (talk) 10:34, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
FunkMonk, based on this architectural site, the male shoulder height is 1425mm. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 10:44, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Oh, hehehe, I meant of the wolves! Maybe it would also be good to throw a modern wolf into the image for comparison?FunkMonk (talk) 10:49, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
FunkMonk, it is given in the article, DW same size as these: "The largest northern wolves today have a shoulder height not exceeding 38 in (97 cm) and a body length not exceeding 69 in (180 cm). Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 22:00, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
Ah, of course, for some reason I couldn't find it, but I was also somewhat busy when I looked... Will put up a version here soon. FunkMonk (talk) 01:02, 8 July 2017 (UTC)
Just put this together[14], very simple, but may be ok until someone makes something better. Does it look correct, William Harris? FunkMonk (talk) 03:56, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Hello FunkMonk, nice work. I believe that it does look correct based on video footage available online (Youtube) of people interacting with arctic wolves. People will see that they are not lion size, and Mario's thin wolf works well - there is no such thing as a well-fed wolf (apart from my "cave-wolf"). Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 09:21, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
Ok, here it is:[15] What source should I give for the size? FunkMonk (talk) 13:08, 11 July 2017 (UTC)
L. David Mech (1966). The Wolves of Isle Royale - full citation in the Reference section. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 06:26, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
Done. The image would seem most relevant somewhere in the description section. FunkMonk (talk) 11:03, 12 July 2017 (UTC)
Now in place, FunkMonk - I think it looks dramatic and useful. Regards,
Ready for the main page! The wolf in the drawing is crouching a little, so I did not put the shoulder at the absolute maximum (as this would inflate the overall size), but that can maybe be rectified at some point. FunkMonk (talk) 12:14, 12 July 2017 (UTC)

Latest: most recent or youngest?[edit]

The lede states that "The latest dire wolf remains have been dated to 9,440 years ago.". Does this mean that the most recently discovered remains were dated to 9,440 years ago (but there might be younger ones discovered earlier); or that the remains of the most recently deceased animal have been dated to 9,440 years ago (but others discovered since were older)? It's ambiguous, and an edit I made to replace "latest" with "youngest" was reverted without discussion. Different wording is required so I and others know what this sentence means. Bazza (talk) 12:00, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

The lead should provide an overview of what is in the text. You altered the lead, and I changed it to reflect what was in the text. In future, you are advised to change both. You might have consulted a good dictionary to answer your own question. Youngest - was the remains that of a dire wolf puppy? My dictionary tells me that latest means "the most recent or newest e.g. the latest unemployment figures, the latest craze/fashion/trend, her latest novel, Have you heard the latest news?" We don't speak of "have you heard the youngest news". Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 09:14, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
No need to be quite so abrupt, nor patronising. In future, you are advised to assume good faith. I read the text, was unclear about it's meaning, and went to the trouble of raising this as an issue. My dictionary tells me that latest means "of most recent date", so we seem agreed on that, but my question still stands: does the text mean that the most recently discovered remains were dated to 9,440 years ago (but there might be younger ones discovered earlier); or that the remains of the most recently deceased animal (which may or may not have been younger than others when it died) have been dated to 9,440 years ago (but others discovered since were older)? I did check the end of the article to see if there was a clear indication of what the lede text means, but I'm still none-the-wiser, especially in light of "Dire wolf remains have been radiocarbon dated to 8,200 YBP from Whitewater Draw in Arizona". Bazza (talk) 09:45, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
I am abrupt and that is my nature. I was being factual, however I was not being patronizing. I never assume anything. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 10:57, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
There is no ambiguity except by allowing the most literal, nonsensical interpretation. The age of the remains found by the most recent dig has no significance and no permanence. I support the text as it is now. Is anyone actually confused about this? That said, the discrepancy between the 9,440 and 8,200 YBP needs to be better explained, even if it's to say that the younger is controversial. Strebe (talk) 16:59, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
Hello Strebe, the last paragraph remains an issue and I would be pleased to hear from User:WolfmanSF on this matter. We have two expert secondary sources for the 9,440 YBP figure and I believe that should stay. Although I originally placed it, I think we should remove the 2,040 YBP specimen - see my comment under the Dire Wolf Visitors section below. We can have specimens of big lupus being confused with dirus. The Whitewater Draw specimen radiocarbon dated to 8,200 YBP remains our challenge. I originally had it listed as the lastest remains, however Wolfman pointed out a reference relating to the inaccuracies of radiocarbon dating on bone carbonate. My issue with this is although the radiocarbon dating was done in 1960, there were a number of specimens in the Whitewater Draw sediment that were dated back to 8,200 YBP, including wood. Therefore, the dating of the specimen at 8,200 YBP should be accurate because both the specimen and other specimens in the sediment were dated to this time, including non-bone carbonate. Despite this reference existing since 1960, the other two secondary sources written later did not include it. However, we now have the Brannick/Meachan/O'keefe 2015 reference - 3 recognized experts - who cite it. Has anyone any ideas about a way forward? William Harris • (talk) • 09:20, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
@Strebe So I am nonsensical? That's a bit rude, especially as I pointed out the discrepancy now being looked at. Yes, I am actually confused by this. I don't know what "latest" refers to: the logical interpretation is that it means the latest remains uncovered were dated to 9,440 YBP, although there may be younger ones uncovered previously. Is this the case, or is this trying to say that "the youngest remains uncovered so far have been dated to 9,440 YBP"? (You have used the word "younger" above.) I don't know what you mean by "The age of the remains found by the most recent dig has no significance and no permanence." Bazza (talk) 11:50, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
Some history. After the Dire wolf's Good Article review, it was placed into the hands of the Wikipedia:WikiProject Guild of Copy Editors. The Guild changed what was once there to read "latest". The article then went through the Featured Article review and "latest" remained. If you have an issue, then you may refer it to User:Corinne who will explain its usage to you. William Harris • (talk) • 12:44, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
Strange. You wrote "latest" at the end of May last year, and it was still that when User:Corinne started work in March this year. This Wikipedia article contains one ambiguous word in the lede, and an ambiguous fact alongside it. I originally read the article lede because its blurb on the Main Page looked interesting and informative and unusual, but I stumbled on the last line because I could read it in two ways. Wikipedia's way of working is to be bold so I was. I wish I hadn't been. There is an uncomfortable air verging on article ownership here and, after being reverted, lectured and treated with disdain, I feel like I'm unwelcome because I've dared to point out, let alone try to fix, some bad wording. It's the worst for quite a while. Bazza (talk) 16:34, 19 July 2017 (UTC)
Bazza I'm sorry you feel unwelcome. I assure you that neither William Harris nor Strebe hold feelings of ownership over this article. Try to put yourself in their shoes, though; they – particularly William Harris – worked for months, collaborating with other editors, on this article to get it to GA, then FA, status. They might be reluctant to see their hard work changed without discussion. But let's put that aside for now. Since I copy-edited the article months ago, I don't remember coming across, or thinking about, that particular word then. I just re-read the lede, the particular sentence in question, quoted at the beginning of this section – "The latest dire wolf remains have been dated to 9,440 years ago." – and the related sentence later in the article, as well as your original comment, above, to see if I could find the ambiguity you saw. When I read, "The latest dire wolf remains have been dated to 9,440 years ago", I think it is pretty clear that it means "the most recently found remains have been dated to 9,440 years ago", or "the most recently discovered remains have been dated to 9,440 years ago". The only way to make it clearer would be to use one of those two phrases – "the most recently found dire wolf remains" or "the most recently discovered dire wolf remains". I am a bit puzzled by your attempt to explain how the sentence is ambiguous:
Does this mean that the most recently discovered remains were dated to 9,440 years ago (but there might be younger ones discovered earlier); or that the remains of the most recently deceased animal have been dated to 9,440 years ago (but others discovered since were older)?
I'm not a scientist, so I'm approaching this just as an average WP reader. I pretty much understand the first half of your question, but the second half doesn't make sense to me. How would anyone know when, or where, "the most recently deceased animal" was? In the first part of your question, when you say "younger ones", do you mean younger in age when the animal died, or lived in more recent times? I hope you mean "lived in more recent times". I think I understand what you find confusing: does "latest dire wolf remains" mean "most recently discovered dire wolf remains" or "the remains of a dire wolf that lived in the most recent time" (youngest?), or, to say that another way, "the remains of the most modern dire wolf"? I think that, if the authors of the article meant "the remains of the most modern dire wolf", they would have said that. Since they didn't, I think it has to mean "the most recently discovered dire wolf remains". The sentence later in the article, in the second paragraph in Dire wolf#Extinction:
  • Terminal dates for the dire wolf include 9,440 YBP at Brynjulfson Cave, Boone County, Missouri, 9,860 YBP at Rancho La Brea, California, and 10,690 YBP at La Mirada, California.
I'm not sure what "terminal dates" means, but since this paragraph is about when the dire wolf went extinct, and mentions radiocarbon dating, I have to assume that these are the ages (determined from "ancient DNA and radiocarbon data") of the remains of the dire wolves when they went extinct in those three different locations. Since the sentence in the lede is supposed to summarize the expanded material later in the article, the sentence in the lede, "The latest dire wolf remains have been dated to 9,440 years ago", which surely refers to this sentence in the Extinction paragraph, must mean the most modern remains, or the remains of the animal that was alive at the latest date in that area before the species went extinct. So, since I thought before that it meant "the most recently discovered dire wolf remains", then it appears Bazza has a point. "Latest" is ambiguous. Bazza, the best way to succeed on WP is not to complain unless absolutely necessary, develop a somewhat tough skin, keep your cool, stay friendly, work to persuade by logic, reasoning, examples, evidence in sources, etc., and be persistent. William Harris and Strebe, if I've made a complete mess of this, I'm sorry. Just see me as an average WP reader. If I'm confused, then others might be, too.  – Corinne (talk) 01:42, 20 July 2017 (UTC) – Corinne (talk) 16:07, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
@User:Corinne Thanks for taking the trouble to comment on this. I am glad that someone else became as confused as I. I appreciate that lots of time has been put in by a small number of editors on what has become a fine Featured Article — viewing the page's history yesterday showed very well how much effort has been involved. I read WP more than contribute, but will correct spellings, grammar or obvious inconsistencies or ambiguities if time permits. My original edit was along these lines, although, like you, I did not feel particularly well-versed in the subject to try again after the first reversion: hence my original question which has prompted a rather long debate. Perhaps I should have rephrased it along the lines of asking if the lede could include a simple statement to answer the question which seems to always accompany information about extinct species: "roughly, is it thought that this animal became extinct?"; the text hopefully avoiding too much technical-speak such as that you mentioned above. I appreciate that finer points of palaeontology will not permit such a simple approach in the main body of the article (as rightly shown in the later sections), but "became extinct between", with whatever extra "±", "not precisely agreed", or "probably" is required would be fine. (Postscript: I have just looked at the article and see that User:Strebe has done just that: kudos and thanks.) Bazza (talk) 09:59, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

"Geologically youngest" might have been an easy fix for the wording issue. WolfmanSF (talk) 06:04, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

I understand that "the most recently found remains" and "[Dire wolf] remains having the most recent geological ages" are two different things, so I completely understand Strebe's edit. However, I really think that many average Wikipedia readers might scratch their head upon reading
Dire wolf remains having the most recent geological ages...
I'm wondering if you would consider adding, after "ages", a brief explanation in simpler terms for this phrase – in parentheses, a pair of commas (after "that is,..."), or within a pair of en-dashes (after "that is,..."). Something like: "that is, the geologically youngest remains ever found". I think that would make sense to most readers. It would look like this:
Dire wolf remains having the most recent geological ages – that is, the geologically youngest remains ever found – are dated 9,440 YBP at Brynjulfson Cave, Boone County, Missouri,[1][2] 9,860 YBP at Rancho La Brea, California, and 10,690 YBP at La Mirada, California.
If you really want to avoid the word "youngest", we could use "the most recent remains ever found", either in addition to, or instead of "Dire wolf remains having the most recent geological ages".
 – Corinne (talk) 00:08, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
I don't object to “youngest geological ages”; that’s synonymous with “most recent geological ages”. I don't understand how a reader might be confused by “most recent”, but then I don’t understand how the original verbiage that sparked this thread was confusing, either. :-\ Strebe (talk) 16:41, 24 July 2017 (UTC)
It's not the "most recent" phrase, it's the other part, "having the...geological ages", that I think might puzzle some readers.  – Corinne (talk) 17:36, 24 July 2017 (UTC)

American Alsatian[edit]

Good article and good timing with the season premiere of Game of Thrones. There might be something added somewhere to this article that the American Alsatian dog has been developed to emulate the size and bone structure of the dire wolf. Eric Cable  !  Talk  13:54, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

If this was that notable, I'd imagine the breed would have an article. And that info would probably be more relevant in said article than here. FunkMonk (talk) 14:12, 17 July 2017 (UTC)
If you are referring to the Northern Inuit Dog used in GOT then that article exists. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 09:18, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

Game of Thrones premiere?[edit]

I know Wikipedia will do things like having Canada as the featured article on Canada Day, but it would seem a little unprofessional if Wikipedia picked featured articles based on the airdates of TV shows. My question is: is it a coincidence that the dire wolf article is featured the day after the Game of Thrones season premiere? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:302:D1E2:7310:94BA:2F76:2399:6D06 (talk) 17:18, 17 July 2017 (UTC)

See:[16] But note there is no mention of the series in the article. For your information, Wikipedia TFAs routinely coincide with release dates of popular media (mainly anniversaries, though), but this one is probably less "blatant" than most. FunkMonk (talk) 17:23, 17 July 2017 (UTC)
I await your explanation as to why you consider this as "unprofessional". Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 09:19, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

Dire wolf visitors[edit]

Hello members of the "Ice Age wolf pack". Yesterday (Monday), the Dire wolf article appeared as Today's Featured Article to coincide with the release of Game of Thrones Season Seven, which will see the return of the "fantasy" direwolves. The strategy was to draw upon the interest generated by GOT to satisfy readers with a featured article. Dire wolf averages 2,000 visitors each day. Yesterday, it peaked at 94,000 visitors, followed by Tuesday 31,000 then Wednesday 16,000 then Thursday 9,000 then 4,200 on Friday, which totals 154,000 visitors. However, it now has a growing competitor. Also yesterday, north of the ice sheets, the Beringian wolf gained Good Article status. Regards, William Harris • (talk) • 09:27, 18 July 2017 (UTC)

It was also a good way to show the average GOT fan that the real dire wolves were not the size of a lion, bear, or whatever they are in the series. And I'm looking forward to hearing about those dire/Beringian crosses, hybrid vigour? FunkMonk (talk) 21:41, 18 July 2017 (UTC)
We await JM's report. There have been a number of specimens found in the past that the paleontologists have argued over. These were originally classified as lupus but later this classification was challenged because they fell within the size-range of dirus - perhaps all of the researchers were correct! William Harris • (talk) • 09:00, 19 July 2017 (UTC)

Nymeria spike[edit]

Dire wolf visitor numbers have been around 4,000 per day for 3 days. On the 24th, the fantasy dire wolf Nymeria made an appearance on GOT - visitors leapt to 15,200. I assume they were searching for how large a direwolf really was. Well done to our resident artist Funkmonk for providing the graphic under the "Description" section of the article, and to our palaeoartist Mario Massone for providing the original dire wolf sketch used in it. William Harris • (talk) • 10:56, 25 July 2017 (UTC)

"local genetic populations were replaced by others within the same species or by others within the same genus"[edit]

Yes, that is true of both dire wolves and Beringian wolves. However, it is not true of the megafauna in general. That is, ground sloths disappeared entirely, proboscids of the Americas disappeared entirely, equids of the Americas disappeared entirely, etc. When we are talking about the North American megafaunal extinction in general, we can't claim that competition with related species was a factor. That sort of competition is going on all the time and doesn't explain a unique extinction event. WolfmanSF (talk) 07:09, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

The statement is applicable to dire wolves and Beringian wolves, and that is why I chose to reinstitute the comment. However the source - Cooper 2015 - was referring to megafauna in general. Rather than attempt to explain the extinction, we need to outline what was noticed. You are correct that there was no replacement for the North American horses, camels, lions and elephants. However, I understand that deer, moose, muskox, puma, and the Pleistocene coyote in addition to the two wolves were replaced by modern forms. We need to maintain our NPOV and not be deleting relevant material from cited sources because we personally disagree with them. William Harris • (talk) • 09:05, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
On a side note, the humans did not come to North America and hunt alone, they brought someone else along side them - woof! I do not believe that the extent of "local genetic populations were replaced by others within the same species" has been fully realized by the paleontologists yet, but I will leave that theme for the evolutionary biologists to further develop. William Harris • (talk) • 04:40, 22 July 2017 (UTC)
I just wanted to mention that, in both Dire wolf and Beringian wolf, I modified this sentence. I added "from" before the first "within" and changed the second "within" to "of" to avoid the repetition of the word "within". Feel free to change it back or further modify it.  – Corinne (talk) 06:29, 22 July 2017 (UTC)
Thanks Corinne, the amendment reads much better. William Harris • (talk) • 09:42, 22 July 2017 (UTC)

Terminal dates and time of extinction[edit]

We should be careful about equating a terminal date with a time of extinction, for several reasons. There's a distinct possibility that the most recent reported date for a given species is wrong (as we have already concluded for the 2,040 YBP date). Also, in any given locality, fossils of a given species may be quite rare, and thus the possibility exists that the species in question survived in the area for a period after the geologically youngest valid fossil date. WolfmanSF (talk) 07:09, 21 July 2017 (UTC)

I agree with you. Is there replacement wording that you could suggest rather than using terminal date? Else, we may have to define it in the text. We need to keep away from using the word "recent" in this section, which is used to describe the Holocene. William Harris • (talk) • 09:08, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
Thanks Strebe, I think that you have nailed it now. William Harris • (talk) • 08:36, 23 July 2017 (UTC)
On a slightly different matter, the Whitewater Draw 8,200 YBP deposit also revealed camel, horse and Columbian mammoth at the same location, and if this is correct then this area might be the last fragment of their habitat and kind. I have tried to find an accepted extinction date for the Columbian mammoth but the popular wisdom is that it occurred at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary 12,000 years ago. I have not found on what basis that is said. Are you aware of any sources that are based on some scientific measurement? My interest is this: the last Beringian wolf dates 7,600 YBP and so does sediments revealing horse and steppe mammoth in central Alaska. Both the predator and its prey were possibly alive at this time. Something similar may be true for the dire wolf. William Harris • (talk) • 09:22, 21 July 2017 (UTC)
We have Columbian mammoth dated at 10,700 YBP at the latest (Fiedel, S. 2009), which is cotemperal with the dire wolf 10,690 YBP at La Mirada, California. Given that the Holocene commenced 11,700 YBP, these are well into the Holocene, as was the Beringian wolf and the steppe mammoth. William Harris • (talk) • 05:02, 26 July 2017 (UTC)
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