Greenland’s Arctic wolf is unique


ISOLATED POPULATION: In Greenland lives the world’s probably rarest and – scientifically speaking – least known wolf – the Arctic wolf. For more than a hundred years, it has been widely debated if the Arctic wolf actually existed as a unique population or if it was just a part of the other wolf populations in the Arctic regions. Now, a new study from Greenland Institute of Natural resources and the Natural History Museum of Denmark at University of Copenhagen establishes that there does exist a small and very isolated population of Arctic wolves, only found on Ellesmere Land and in Greenland.

- The Arctic wolf does exist, establishes Mikkel Sinding from the Institute.

He has sequenced full genomes of wolves from both North-America and Greenland, and a clear picture is appearing that there are several genetic groups of wolves in the Arctic and polar regions of North-America and Greenland.

- We have mapped the full genome of the Arctic wolf and compared it with other wolf genomes originating from all over North-America – including the Arctic, and here we see substantial genetical differences. So, there is no doubt that the Arctic wolf exists and is its own entirely, says Mikkel Sinding and adds:

- We are talking about a relatively small population of Arctic wolves that live in an isolated area consisting of Ellesmere Land and Greenland.

The study has just been published in the scientific journal PLOS Genetics.



Mikkel Holger Strander Sinding, Scientist, PhD, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources & The Natural History Museum of Denmark, University of Copenhagen, Mail:, Mobile: +45 29 66 83 55

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[Translate to English:] Hoved af en polarulven ” Krummelangsø” fra Grønlandssamlingen hos Statens Naturhistoriske Museum. Polarulven blev i sin tid fundet af Johan Brus Mikkelsen fra Siriuspatruljen ved Krummelangsø i Grønland, denne ulvens genom er ligeledes en del af studiet.

The Arctic wolf “Daneborg” was shot in self-defence by the Sirius Sled Patrol in 2013 when it attacked a dog team. In the recent study, scientists have taken DNA from the tissue of the Arctic wolf, which today is kept at the Institute. Photographer: Morten Petersen.

Fotograf: Johan Brus Mikkelsen.

Head of the Arctic wolf “Krummelangsø” from the Greenland collection at The Natural History Museum of Denmark. The Arctic wolf was found by Johan Brus Mikkelsen from the Sirius Sled Patrol at Krummelangsø in Greenland, and its genome is also part of the study. Photographer: Johan Brus Mikkelsen.