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How long have wolves been on the planet?


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December 19, 2014 12:23AM

First, define what you mean by "wolf."There are a number of different species that are or have been called "wolves". Do you mean a particular kind of wolf? Any kind of wolf? Any animal that a modern human from the US would look at and say "yep, that's a wolf"?

The first caniforms (creatures that could be reasonably described as "dog-like") arose about 50 million years ago. Some time around 40-35 million years ago, the first canid (member of the "dog family" proper) had developed, but probably no one would call it a "wolf" ... for one thing, it was small, being only slightly bigger than a large Chihuahua.

The genus Canis (which includes the modern "wolf" and the "dire wolf", a separate species) appeared maybe 25 million years ago, and modern-looking forms were around by, say, 20 million years ago, though they weren't quite the wolves of today. Canis lupis (the modern grey wolf species) dates back maybe 3 million years or so.