This 55,000-Year-Old Bison Found in the Alaskan Tundra Was Preserved Well Enough to Be Eaten

by Megan Molseed

It’s a tale that spans the ages, moving across not only the decades following a historical once-in-a-lifetime meal but all the way back to the ice age…55,000 years ago to be (almost) exact. 1n 1979, gold miners discovered the mummified remains of a bison that has now been called “Blue Babe.” This amazing find was unearthed in the Alaskan Tundra and is estimated to be about 55,000 years old. However, this amazing mummified bison could be even older…after all, radiocarbon dating tools can’t measure any further back than that.

Now, one would think that this is where the impressive tale would end…but according to a recent NPR article – written in a rhyming style – there was so much more to this story. In fact, the story gets even more astonishing as we learn that, not long after the massive mummified beast was uncovered, a piece of the bison was served at a once-in-a-lifetime dinner party.

The Dinner Party That Served An Unusual Stew Made From 55,000-Year-Old Bison Meat

A few years after this mummified bison dubbed “Blue Babe” was unearthed a handful of guests were invited to what is quite possibly one of the most unusual dinner parties of all time. Alaskan paleontologist Dale Guthrie invited the guests to try out a very rare delicacy…a stew made from Blue Babe’s neck meat.

Just five years before this unusual dinner party, Blue Babe had been discovered by Alaskan gold miners hydraulic mining hoses melted some of the elements keeping the bison frozen. Guthrie was called in to decide what to do. Initially, the paleontologist hoped to dig Blue Babe out from its icy home. However, the nearly impenetrable elements surrounding the 55,000-year-old bison made this nearly impossible.

So, Guthrie decided to cut off a piece of the mummified animal and freeze it. Soon, however, the team was able to move Blue Babe onto campus. And, as the scientists began to research the animal they learned the bison was nearly perfectly intact. Blue Babe froze almost immediately after being taken down by a lion-like creature.

This meant that much of the animal’s fatty skin and marrow remained intact, even thousands and thousands of years later. So, the scientists thought…why not try and taste some of this preserved ice-age bison?

“All of us working on this thing had heard the tales of the Russians [who] excavated things like bison and mammoth in the Far North [that] were frozen enough to eat,” Guthrie relates. “So we decided, ‘You know what we can do? Make a meal using this bison.’”

The Scientist Settled On A Blue Babe Stew

After some consideration, Guthrie decided that a Blue Babe stew would be the best option for the unusual dinner party menu. He figured that if they used a lot of “vegetables and spices,” the meal wouldn’t be “too bad.”

The group added quite a few onions, plenty of garlic, potatoes, and carrots to the 55,000-year-old meat. The experts say they had very little worry about getting sick from this one-of-a-kind stew.

“That would take a very special kind of microorganism [to make me sick],” Guthrie explains.

“I eat frozen meat all the time, of animals that I kill or my neighbors kill,” he adds. “And they do get kind of old after three years in the freezer.” No one got sick at this unusual dinner party, either it seems. And, the paleontologist says, the stew wasn’t “that bad.”