Update on Dire wolf taxonomy

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La Striata
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Update on Dire wolf taxonomy

Post by La Striata » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:23 am

Advance interview concerning an upcoming paper. Turns out they've finally extracted dire wolf DNA (previously impossible due to tar contamination):


Previously, it had been popularly thought that dire wolves were firmly within the Canina clade (wolf-like canids) of the genus Canis. Now, it appears, they were even more distantly related to grey wolves than the black-backed and side-striped jackals are, both of which aren't even considered part of the genus Canis anymore.

So, basically prepare yourselves to get used to the binomial name Aenocyon dirus, and reconstructions showing them as a scaled-up version of an African jackal rather than an arctic wolf on steroids.
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Re: Update on Dire wolf taxonomy

Post by DaniBeez » Wed Jul 15, 2020 3:07 pm

Long time no read, La Striata.

Thanks for sharing. My interest in this comes from the molecular side, as I work with environmental DNA (eDNA) routinely. Some of its challenges are shared with those of ancient DNA. Although I have never encountered an inhibitor as challenging as tar!

I was interested to learn that all attempts to extract DNA from tar have been thus far unsuccessful. I wish they had expanded more on how they got dire wolf DNA, presumably from bones. Although sequencing ancient DNA from bones isn't new, so maybe they just got a good specimen without tar contamination.

It must be a super new work, as I can't find a preprint or mention of it on her academic records. Guess I'll have to wait! If it comes out and I remember, I will share it to WQ.

...omg, that horn audio around the 20 min mark was so annoying! I thought at first it was a ship or something from her end.
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Re: Update on Dire wolf taxonomy

Post by Koa » Wed Jul 22, 2020 9:39 am

Thanks for sharing! I'm listening to the video now and she explains it really well -- enough for a non-science person like myself to understand.
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