Mammoths May Return By 2028, But We Already Brought Back Mammoth Meat

Yesterday came the exciting news that de-extinction company Colossal Biosciences claim that they have taken a big step towards being able to resurrect the mammoth by their target of 2028.

But for those who are only interested in reintroducing an ancient giant to see what it tastes like, we have good news: mammoth meatballs have already been created.

A firm in Australia used the DNA from a mammoth to make mammoth meatballs late last year. Vow hoped that by creating meats from unusual (and extinct) animals, they could start a conversation about these cultured meat alternatives, and tempt people away from traditional meat sources that are no longer sustainable during the climate crisis. 

To create the meatball, Vow used the DNA sequence of a mammoth muscle protein. Where there were gaps in the sequence, DNA from elephants was used, before the meat was grown inside myoblast stem cells taken from sheep, The Guardian reported. The whole process took a few weeks and can be grown “indefinitely”, according to the meatball’s creators.

Though the team chose mammoth because “it’s a symbol of diversity loss and a symbol of climate change,” Vow co-founder Tim Noakesmith told The Guardian, the process could work where a biopsy from the target animal about the size of an almond is available. 

This means that the dodo, which humans drove to extinction via hunting and the introduction of rats and pigs, is something we can’t bring back to chow down on one last time.

“There’s just not enough genetic information to make that work,” the team explained to Good Morning Britain, adding, “Dodo nuggets was actually the first idea that we had. We pivoted to mammoth because there’s just more information known about it.”

“The collagen sequence for T. rex is actually quite well described,” Chief Scientific Officer at Vow, James Ryall, added. “So you could in theory create a collagen-based supplement using Tyrannosaurus rex.


In the long term, the team hopes to reduce manufacturing costs to make cultured meats competitive with, and eventually replace, traditionally farmed meats. But initially, they are focusing on fine dining restaurants “where chefs are adventurous enough to play, and customers are prepared to pay a premium”.

As well as more traditional meats, like chicken and beef, the team have previously talked about the potential of creating zebra meat, as well as yak and Galapagos tortoise meat, which Charles Darwin found to be delicious.

So there you have it. If mammoths are brought back by scientists, there is no need to then dead them again for their meat – we already have it available.

An earlier version of this article was published in March 2023.

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