It may look like a wild dog, but experts in Montana say this recently killed canine is neither a dog nor a wolf.
A mysterious wolf-like creature was shot dead by a rancher in rural Montana — and even wildlife officials have no clue what the thing is, authorities said Friday.
The beast had oddly long gray fur, oversized claws and an extra-large head — but its ears are too big and its legs are too short to be a common wolf or dog, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials.
“We will have no idea what this is until we get a DNA report back,” Bruce Auchly of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks told The Great Falls Tribune.
The strange discovery was made May 16 by a man who shot the canine because it tried to chow down on his livestock in the tiny town of Denton, officials said in a press release.
Here is a photo included of the paw. What can it tell us?
This looks most like the hind paw of a domestic dog. A bear tracking site says in domestic dog prints you can notice the oval or egg-shaped appearance. The two front toes in this photo do look almost fused, more primordial.
From the top it looks like a dog. Too bad it was shot instead of captured. Experts say it is a young non-lactating female in the dog family.
DNA results could be back in weeks but might take months.
Could this somehow be a dire wolf? That seems impossible. The last one dates back 10,000 to 125,000 years.
The dire wolf (Canis dirus, “fearsome dog”) is an extinctspecies of the genusCanis. It is one of the most famous prehistoric carnivores in North America, along with its extinct competitor, the sabre-toothed cat Smilodon fatalis. The dire wolf lived in the Americas during the Late Pleistocene epoch (125,000–10,000 years ago). The species was named in 1858, four years after the first specimen had been found
Here’s a possible answer, however, which I have not seen elsewhere: Could this be a dire wolf breed stand-in?
The real thing is long gone, but we may still be able to create some pretty convincing stand-ins. Since 1988, the American Altisan Breeder’s Association has been combining various dog breeds “in order to bring back the look of the large prehistoric Dire Wolf.” The resulting pooches have been described as calm, shaggy, and “distinctly wolfy.” But be warned: one pup will set you back $3000, and there’s a sizable waiting list.
That’s my best guess so far: a human breeding line, designed to imitate a dire wolf, which escaped or was released into the wild.