Land of the Lost Wolves - Netflix

Two-part natural history series following the fortunes of one very special pack of wolves as they return to North America's West Coast.

Land of the Lost Wolves - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: 2012-04-05

Land of the Lost Wolves - Evolution of the wolf - Netflix

The evolution of the wolf occurred over a geologic time scale of 800 thousand years, transforming the first Middle Pleistocene wolf specimen that is recognized as being morphologically similar to Canis lupus into today's dog, dingo and gray wolf. Ecological factors including habitat type, climate, prey specialization and predatory competition has greatly influenced the wolf's genetic population structure and cranio-dental plasticity. Wolves went through a population bottleneck 20,000 years before present (YBP), which indicates that many wolf populations had gone extinct at a time that coincided with the Last Glacial Maximum and the expansion of modern humans worldwide with their technology for capturing large game. The domestic dog is the most widely abundant large carnivore and a descendant from one of those now-extinct wolf populations. Today, the wolf is represented by the many extant subspecies of Canis lupus, which includes the dog and dingo.

Land of the Lost Wolves - Timing issue - Netflix

There are two key assumptions that are made for dating the divergence time for species: the generation time and the genetic mutation rate per generation. The time between generations for wolves is assumed to be three years based on the extant gray wolf, and two years for the dog based on the extant dog. One recent major study assumed a generation time of 2 years for the dog for as far back as 10,000 years ago, and then assumed a generation time of 3 years (the same as the wolf) before that to calculate a proposed divergence time between the two. In 2017, the wolf research scientist L. David Mech queried why evolutionary biologists were calculating the approximate time of the dog diverging from the wolf through using a wolf generation time of three years when published works using large data sets demonstrate a figure of 4.2-4.7 years. They were encouraged to recalculate their divergence dates accordingly. DNA studies are conducted but with “the mutation rate as the dominant source of uncertainty.” In 2005, Lindblad-Toh sequenced the first draft genome of the extant dog, and calculated a proposed mutation rate of 1x10−8 mutations per generation. In 2015, Skoglund was able to sequence the first draft genome of the 35,000 YBP Taimyr wolf and used its radio-carbon date to validate a proposed genetic mutation rate of 0.4x10−8 mutations per generation. The difference is a timing factor of 2.5, however another study stated that because only one Pleistocene wolf specimen has so far been sequenced, then the result should be treated with caution, with that study then providing both estimates to calculate the proposed divergence times between the wolf and dog. However, in 2016 the mutation rate of the 4,800 YBP Newgrange dog matched that of the Taimyr wolf.

Land of the Lost Wolves - References - Netflix