Scientists have cooked up a meatball made from the DNA of prehistoric mammoths. Boffins at Australian ‘cultivated meat’ company Vow took just “a couple of weeks” to resurrect the caveman meal using cells from mammoths combined with those from modern elephants to fill in any gaps in the DNA sequence.
Finally, the recipe required myoblast stem cells from a sheep which were used to help the replication process of 20 billion cells to grow the product.
The company is just one of a few in the world pioneering cultivated lab-grown meat which it is claimed is more environmentally friendly than protetin from traditional animal farming.
Meat that is cultivated does not require as much land or water to produce and it does not emit methane in the same vast quantities.
However, despite creating the ground-breaking mammoth meatball Vow said it could not be sampled because experts fear the ancient protein could potentially be dangerous.
Professor Ernst Wolvetang, who made the meatball with Vow, said: “We haven’t seen this protein for thousands of years.
“So we have no idea how our immune system would react when we eat it. But if we did it again, we could certainly do it in a way that would make it more palatable to regulatory bodies.”
Professor Wolvetang, of the Australian Institute for Bioengineering at the University of Queensland, told the Guardian the process was “ridiculously easy and fast” and completed in a “couple of weeks”.
Mammoth meat was chosen Vow said “because it (the mammouth) is a symbol of diversity loss and a symbol of climate change”.
It’s believed the massive herbivore died out around 10,000 years ago because of hunting from emerging human populations and from the loss of habitat due to climate change after the last Ice Age.
In Singapore a company called Good Meat has been approved to sell cultivated chicken to consumers, the product replicates the taste of the actual meat.
The mammoth meatball will be unveiled at Nemo, a science museum in the Netherlands, on Thursday.
Mammoths were similar in size to modern African elephants but covered almost entirely in hair to withstand Ice Age temperatures of up to -50C.
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