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The fossilized jawbone with cheek-teeth was obtained by the geologist Joseph Granville Norwood from an Evansville collector, Francis A. The paleontologist Joseph Leidy determined that the specimen represented an extinct species of wolf and reported it under the name of Canis primaevus.
Norwood's letters to Leidy are preserved along with the type specimen (the first of a species that has a written description) at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia.
YBP, the abundance of conifers decreased, and those of the modern coastal plant communities, including oak woodland, chaparral, and coastal sage scrub, increased.
Parts of a vertebral column have been assembled, and it was found to be similar to that of the modern wolf, with the same number of vertebrae.Geographic differences in dire wolves were not detected until 1984, when a study of skeletal remains showed differences in a few cranio-dental features and limb proportions between specimens from California and Mexico (C. dirus are sometimes easy to identify compared to other Canis specimens because the baculum (penis bone) of the dire wolf is very different from that of all other living canids.Ecological factors such as habitat type, climate, prey specialization, and predatory competition have been shown to greatly influence gray wolf craniodental plasticity, which is an adaptation of the cranium and teeth due to the influences of the environment.Its reliance on megaherbivores has been proposed as the cause of its extinction, along with climate change and competition with other species, but the cause remains controversial.Dire wolves lived as recently as 9,440 years ago, according to dated remains.