A meatball has now been made from the DNA of a woolly mammoth. In recent years, scientists have learned to sequence the mammoth genome from the carcasses of the prehistoric animal from remains complete with fur, tissues, and even frozen blood well preserved in Arctic permafrost.
An Australian culture meat startup, Vow, used research to create a mammoth meatball. The company shares that the meatball serves to draw attention to cultured meat and help make eating habits more planet friendly. “We need to start rethinking how we get our food. My biggest hope for this project is…that a lot more people across the world begin to hear about cultured meat,” said James Ryall, Vow’s Chief Scientific Officer.
The meatball is not made for human consumption and only features a mix of cultivated lamb with some mammoth DNA. The meatball is about 400 grams of mammoth protein by focusing on myoglobin, the protein present in mammals. The startup identified the DNA sequence for the mammoth from a publicly available genome database and filled in the gaps with the genome of the African elephant.
“Normally, we would taste our products and play around with them. But we were hesitant to immediately try and taste because we’re talking about a protein that hasn’t existed for 5,000 years. I’ve got no idea what the potential allergenicity might be of this particular protein,” Ryall said when sharing that they didn’t eat any of the meat.