Monday, August 17, 2009

Mammoths, steppe bison, and very frozen food

I've been thinking, per the post on bog cheese, if the stories about explorers and scientists eating mammoths and other prehistoric animals that were "flash-frozen " are true.

As is often the case , Cecil Adams's great website, The Straight Dope, is the best source for unusual information. According to Adams, there is credible evidence that a few "morsels" of mammoth and and steppe bison have been sampled. Most prehistoric carcasses that have been discovered are rotted, to a degree I'm not sure I want to know about in detail. Many of the stories about eating frozen prehistoric mammals are likely apocryphal.

Dale Guthrie wrote a book on the discovery of Blue Babe a 36,000 pound steppe bison, who appeared blue in part, due to the reaction of chemicals on his skin. His hindquarters were gone; most likely he was eaten by lions. Guthrie mentions that flesh from Babe's neck was put into a stew. He described it as "well-aged but a little tough, ..." . The writer James Oliver Curwood described eating a frozen mastodon in 1912.

The story of Big Babe

A photo of Big Babe:

Again, sorry for the long URL's here.

Parts of Guthrie's book "Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe" are here:

An interesting article on steppe bison:

Interesting but technical article on prehistoric arctic climate by Guthrie, with a great title.

Origin and causes of the mammoth steppe: a story of cloud cover, woolly mammal tooth pits, buckles, and inside-out Beringia

Three year old Kaleb Kidd, holding a mammoth tooth he found in La Crosse, Wisconsin

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