Dire wolves are considered to be a sister species of grey wolves based on their high morphological similarity, but an alternative hypothesis suggests that they may form a separate lineage. Here, the authors sequenced DNA extracted from 5 sub-fossil dire wolf bone specimens dating between 12,900 years and more than 50,000 years ago for phylogenetic analysis with other extant canid species. The analyses revealed monophyly of three primary lineages—that is, dire wolves, African jackals and a clade comprising all other analysed extant wolf-like canids—and it is estimated that dire wolves shared a last common ancestor with wolf-like canids around 5.7 million years ago.
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