Dire Wolf Jaw Fossil from Southern California Brea Pit
"from the Spinner Estate Collection"

Canis dirus (Dire Wolf)

Class Mammalia, Order Carnivora, Order Canidae

Geological Time: Pleistocene (Irvingtonian to Rancholabrean Stage)

Size: Fossil is 15.2 x 12.7 x 10.1 cm (9 x 5 x 4”)

Fossil Site: Brea Pit, Southern California

Fossil Code: PFV364

Price: $800.00 - sold

Dire Wolf FossilDescription: These kinds of fossils are just not commercially available. The Le Brea (tar) pit fossils were available back in the 50s-80s, just the time the Spinner collection was being accumulated. They are now only available from such old collections This magnificent Dire Wolf fossil jaw section speaks for itself. It has a rich provenance. It’s the only one I have, with no expectations to obtain another in the future.

The Dire Wolf, Canis dirus, is an extinct carnivorous mammal of the genus Canis, and Dire Wolveswas most common in North America and South America from the Irvingtonian stage to the Rancholabrean stage of the Pleistocene epoch living 1.80 Ma – 10,000 years ago, existing for approximately 1.79 million years. Although it was closely related to the Gray Wolf and other sister species, Canis dirus was not the direct ancestor of any species known today. Unlike the Gray Wolf, which is of Eurasian origin, the Dire Wolf evolved on the North American continent, along with the Coyote.[1] The Dire Wolf co-existed with the Gray Wolf in North America for about 100,000 years.
The Dire Wolf was one of the abundant Pleistocene megafauna—a wide variety of very large mammals that lived during the Pleistocene. Approximately 10,000 years ago the Dire Wolf became extinct along with most other North American megafauna

At the end of October, 2010 I acquired a large percentage of the Paul Spinner Collection from his fossil estate manager. Paul was a Native American who worked for the U.S. Forrest Service and lived in the western side of Kern County, California. During the 1950s through the early 1980s he accumulated his collection from Fresno county, the Lompoc area fish beds, Sharktooth Hill bone beds, Kern County Brea (tar) pits, etc. As his reputation grew for having the largest privately held and valuable fossil collection from these areas, he developed a special relationship with the University of California Santa Barbara department of Paleontology as well as the La Brea Tar Pits staff. This unique collection of Southern California fossils was primarily from the Cenozoic, with an emphasis on the Miocene.

Unfortunately, the collection was left with no identifications for time, location, species or age. This is where the mystery lies. The vast majority of the specimens are easy to identify under the trained eye of a commercial dealer, or paleontologist. Locations are somewhat tricky, however. The matrix surrounding the fossil, or the fossil itself often is evidence of location. This dire wolf jaw shows the dark oily looking exterior of a Brea (tar) pit specimen. But, was this specimen discovered in the LaBrea tar pits of Los Angeles? The estate manager of the collection told me that Paul Spinner had collected in the LaBrea pits, possibly with the permission of one of the academic institutions he was affiliated with. It is possible he collected this back in the 50’s or 60’s before the pits became a strictly administered academic sanctuary. Otherwise it came from some other Brea (asphalt) pit located in the S. California, Kern County area. We’ll never know for sure. Paul died back in the 80’s and his collection sat packed away for over 25 years until now.

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