Scientists create woolly mammoth meatball — but are too scared to eat it
Welcome to Jurassic pork.
Ever wonder what prehistoric creatures tasted like? We could soon find out: An Australian food firm has devised a prime-eval meatball from the resurrected flesh of — wait for it — the long extinct woolly mammoth.
The prehistoric Frankenfood — initially the of Bas Korsten from the NYC-based creative agency Wunderman Thompson — was created by Vow, an Australian company that cultivates cells from the biopsies of unconventional animals to create better more sustainable types of meat.
So far, the revolutionary food firm has investigated the lab-grown potential of 50 exotic species from alpaca to peacock in a bid to invent the perfect protein, the Guardian reported. Think of it like an epicurean version of the Indominus Rex from “Jurassic World.”
“We’re constantly scouring the earth for unique cells or combination of cells to inspire great new products and even better eating experiences,” company reps hype on their website.
In their latest mongrelized meat venture, Vow decided to bring back the woolly mammoth, which hasn’t been around for 10,000 years (well past the sell-by date).
“We chose the woolly mammoth because it’s a symbol of diversity loss and a symbol of climate change,” said Vow co-founder Tim Noakesmith, who collaborated with professor Ernst Wolvetang from the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland to resurrect this shaggy pachyderm in food form.
In order to bring the long-dead meat back to life, scientists employed the DNA sequence for mammoth myoglobin, a muscle protein responsible for flavor. They then filled in the missing gene links with the DNA of an elephant — the ice age critter’s closest living relative.
Inputting this formula into sheep stem cells caused them to replicate and grow the 20 billion cells needed for synthesizing the meat.
Despite the complex, “Jurassic Park”-evoking process, Wolvetang told the Guardian that concocting the hybrid protein was “ridiculously easy and fast,” able to be achieved “in a couple of weeks.”
Unfortunately, no one knows how mammoth meat tastes: Scientists are hesitant to try it on account of the animal being well past its extirpation date.
“We haven’t seen this protein for thousands of years,” said Wolvetang. “So we have no idea how our immune system would react when we eat it.”
He added, “But if we did it again, we could certainly do it in a way that would make it more palatable to regulatory bodies.” We advise against the taking a bite of the recently discovered baby mammoth frozen in a block of ice for 30,000 years.
Said mammoth meatball is slated to be unveiled this Thursday at Amsterdam’s NEMO Science Museum. Those involved with Vow told Good Morning Britain that they were originally gonna create “dodo nuggets” but the extinct bird’s genetic sequence didn’t exist.
Vow isn’t resurrecting prehistoric proteins in order to play God. They hope to eventually phase out the industrial production of meat, which they say is wreaking havoc on the environment due to its emissions and resource requirements. By contrast, meat cultivated in the lab requires much less land and water and produces nearly zero emissions, per the firm.
“We can take an almond-sized biopsy from an animal and then produce enough food to feed cities and countries,” Vow representatives told GMB.
“By cultivating beef, pork, chicken and seafood we can have the most impact in terms of reducing emissions from conventional animal agriculture,” Seren Kell, at the Good Food Institute Europe, told the Guardian. “I hope this fascinating project will open up new conversations about cultivated meat’s extraordinary potential to produce more sustainable food.”
Currently, Singapore is the only country where lab-grown meats can legally be sold to consumers.
However, this past summer, the US Food and Drug Administration declared cultivated chicken “safe to eat,” meaning it’s perhaps not too long before this steak-from-concentrate is on the menu.