dire wolf gray wolf montana discovery

Sorry, Game of Thrones fans. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced on Monday that the true identity of a “direwolf” found dead in the state in May was revealed by a DNA analysis, and it is not, in fact, a direwolf.

What Happened?

In mid-May, a single, wolf-like animal was shot and killed on a ranch outside Denton, CBS News reported at the time. To experts, there was something just a little bit off about it.

The creature had long, grayish-brown fur, a big head, and a snout. However, its ears appeared to be larger than average, and its legs and body seemed too short for it to be a typical wolf. So, of course, people jumped to all sorts of wild theories, including that it was a real direwolf like the ones featured in Game of Thrones.

No worries, Lija.

What Was It?

Because apparently Montana FWP knows that we know nothing, Jon Snow, the agency released a statement on Monday that revealed the mysterious canine shot in Montana was a regular ol’ gray wolf.

According to the press release on the Montana FWP website, DNA from the animal was analyzed at the US Fish and Wildlife Service forensic laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, and tested against thousands of other samples from wolves, coyotes, and dogs. After the body of the creature was inspected in a lab, Montana FWP reported it was “a relatively normal looking, dark brown wolf.”

dire wolf montana wolf gray
Poor little dead not-direwolf.

The statement quoted Mary Curtis, a geneticist for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who said that “within species there can be variability” when it comes to the physical attributes of animals. So she wasn’t surprised at all by the findings after this baffling creature was put through actual scientific investigation.

If you’re a bleeding heart animal lover like me, you’ll be happy to hear that the canine was identified as a non-lactating female, so she didn’t have a litter of pups somewhere fending for themselves. Which is at least different from a certain famous scene and storyline from HBO’s Game of Thrones.

Poor, actual direwolf puppers.

The mysterious animal was one of the approximately 900 wolves running around Montana, WIVB reported Monday. Direwolves, on the other hand, now only exist in the realm of Westeros since the extinction of real animals called direwolves many thousands of years ago. Sorry to disappoint anyone out there hoping to hear something a bit more fantastic or otherworldly about this poor, doomed critter.


Now that you’ve read about direwolves, check out this video about the science behind zombie dragon fire.