Date: December 25, 2019 01:55AM
No human has had fresh mammoth meat in almost ten thousand years...https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/12/permafrozen-dinner/604069/
In the 18th and 19th century, explorers to Siberia wrote that the region’s indigenous people, the Evenki, occasionally fed their dogs mammoth meat. But humans have generally been less enthusiastic about eating it. Over tens of thousands of years, the things that make meat tasty turn quite foul.
Fat is one problem. It turns to soap—specifically, a substance called adipocere, also known as “corpse wax” or “grave wax” when it’s found in human bodies left in cool, wet conditions. Paleontologists have noticed it in the fat of woolly mammoths too, even though extremely cold conditions are thought to inhibit the microbes that turn fat into adipocere. The substance could have formed in Siberia, says Shari Forbes, a forensics expert at Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, if temperatures ever fluctuated over tens of thousands of years. Adipocere, she adds, can have the texture of cottage cheese. The smell is rancid. “I know why people would not want to eat it!,” she wrote to me in an email.
The muscle of the frozen mammoths changes as well, like meat left in the freezer for too long. (In this case, many, many millennia too long.) The formation of ice crystals would pierce the muscle fibers of the meat, says Matt Hartings, a food chemist at American University. Frozen, the meat might still be reasonably solid and, well, meat-like. But once defrosted, he says, “it’ll be turned into a goo.”