A coyote atlas and a dire wolf maxilla in a toothy entanglement
As currently exposed in Box 14, this coyote atlas (second neck vertebra) is sitting on top of a dire wolf maxilla (upper jaw) with the dire wolf's canine going right through the space for the coyote's spinal cord. It's a great example of how our fossils at Rancho La Brea are most often found “tangled” together. This results from the bones of many different animals being mixed together after becoming ensnared in the asphalt. The mixing may be the result of trampling and of movement of the asphalt and may take place over thousands of years. This, of course, means that the coyote wasn't necessarily the dire wolf's presumed dinner.