The scientific tourist #200 — in Dire straits

Another interesting shot for you from the La Brea tar pits’ Page Museum — it’s a display of Dire Wolf skulls:

In dire straits

The Dire Wolf is an extinct species, related to the Gray Wolf as a sister species, but without any living descendants. Between about 1.8 million and 10,000 years ago, Dire Wolves roamed the wilds of North and South America. They died out as part of the still mysterious loss of western hemisphere megafauna — possibly because their relatively short legs (compared to those of Gray Wolves) made it hard for them to chase down the relatively faster prey that remained.

The Dire Wolf is likely best known for its oddly high representation in the La Brea tar pits — it’s the fossil most often found in the pits, possibly as the result of hunting in packs.

From the placard:

Rancho La Brea is widely known for its incredibly rich fossil deposits. These Dire Wolf skulls represent only a portion of the more than 3600 wolves whose remains have been found here. It is thought that packs of Dire Wolves attempted to feed on animals trapped in the asphalt and became mired themselves.

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