Dire Wolf

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Trade Tongue:
Image:Hesa Antira_Kedan.png
("Hesa Antira")

Neolykos deinos

    • Class Mammalia
    • Order Carnivora
    • Superfamily Cyonoidea
    • Family Cyonarctidae
    • Subfamily Cyoninae
    • Genus Neolykos


Dire wolves are a species of sentient cyonarctids. They are part of subfamily Cyoninae, along with domestic dogs, kel wolves (normal wolves), Yari dogs, and the lesser cyonines like foxes. Dire wolves originate in the woodlands and savanna around the northern Yari river and westward. They are the only living species of the genus Neolykos.

Contents

Distribution

Dire wolves prefer to inhabit woodlands and savannas. They are runners and dislike dense forest or excessively rocky terrain.

Physical Characteristics

A dire wolf roughly resembles a large, dark kel wolf. The head is proportional larger, with a large braincase, but with shorter, broader jaws. Dire wolves' front paws are significantly different from those of other cyonines. The wrists can rotate, and the first toe (thumb) is elongated and opposable to the other toes (which are also slightly elongated). This allows the dire wolves some basic tool use. The first toe tucks back against the leg while running, so that a dire wolf cannot carry anything in its forepaws while moving faster than a slow walk.

Females range from 80 to 100 cm at the shoulder, and usually about 1.75 times that from nose to tail, and 45 to 65 kg. Males average 12 cm taller and 25 kg heavier.

Dire wolves vary in coat color and patterns, but less so than kel wolves. Their coats are dark, usually in colors of dark brown, charcoal, and black, mostly without the white markings common to kel wolves.

Life Cycle

Dire wolf pups are born blind (and deaf). They open their eyes at about 12 - 15 days.

Gestation Period: 160 days

Skull Fusion: 3 years

Base Infant Mortality: 1 per 3 live births

Weaning: 0.75-1.25 years, average 1 year

Physical Maturity: 5-7 years

Life Span: 45 years

See the Life Cycle Key for definitions of characteristics.

Behavior and Culture

Dire wolf society is organized around packs, which consist of a nuclear family: a mother and father and their children of many ages, with occasional extended family members such as aunts/uncles, elderly grandparents, or orphaned cousins. Each pack holds its own large hunting territory.

A typical pack consists of 8 - 14 grown members, usually plus 2 - 6 pups less than a four years.

Most packs further belong to a clan, which is a group of related packs living in adjacent territories, and maintaining organized contacts among the packs of the clan. A dire wolf interacts with clan members outside their pack on a less than daily basis, usually weekly or monthly. A clan usually has full clan gatherings several times a year.

The Hunt

The focus of dire wolf life and culture is hunting. Dire wolves have developed basic tool use to butcher and transport kills, so that less meat is wasted or lost to scavengers.

Individuals take small prey on a regular basis, but most of the packs food come from co-ordinated hunts of large prey. Dire wolves have more complicated strategies than any other cyonarctids, with complex planning and division of labor. Labor is divided primarily by hunting experience, but also with consideration of individual talents. Hunting strategy varies by situation and culture, but there is a basic pattern that is near universal.


Once the kill is brought down, and tools are provided (whether brought pre-made or fashioned on the spot), one, two, or occasionally three teams of three dire wolves each begin to butcher the kill. In each team, one member holds the prey, another wields the cutting tool, and another peels back skin, and removes pieces as necessary.

The kill is fairly quickly butchered and the meat wrapped in its hide, and the hide of previous kills, to be taken back to the den or camp. In this way dire wolves are able to use their kills more efficiently and with less wasted or lost, and to provide more efficiently for non-hunters (including cubs and elders) than their non-tool using relatives.

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