If you’ve been a fan of the fantasy genre for any amount of time, chances are you’re at least familiar with the dire wolf. Dire wolves frequently show up in fantasy stories, such as Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin, Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, and Prophecy of Swords by M. H. Bonham. But you may be wondering if dire wolves were real or not. Dire wolves actually did exist in the past. They’re now extinct, but they capture our imaginations even now.

1. When Did Dire Wolves Live?

The first thing you may be wondering is when the dire wolf actually existed. These wolves died out about 9000 years ago, and they lived in the Late Pleistocene to the Early Holocene, which is from 125,000 years ago to 9000 years ago. They lived in North America and died out during or not long after the American megafaunal extinction event.

Dire WolfCoreyFord / Getty Images