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An ice-age bison was discovered! Then soon eaten — once the foul taste was smothered

Gold miners discovered the mummified Steppe Bison now called "Blue Babe." Researchers believe it is more than 55,000 years old. Unfortunately, radiocarbon dating tools can't measure any further back that.
University of Alaska Museum of the North
Gold miners discovered the mummified Steppe Bison now called "Blue Babe." Researchers believe it is more than 55,000 years old. Unfortunately, radiocarbon dating tools can't measure any further back that.

In 1979, researchers unearthed the mummified body of a 55,000-year-old Steppe bison in the Alaskan tundra. Shortly after, they sliced off a piece of its neck — to eat!

Here's a news story told in rhyme:


This is not a traditional story.
Not many names or dates, so don't worry.

It's also not incredibly timely,
But it's about an ice age Steppe bison
And a man whose thought process defies me.

Let's start with the creature, lived more than 55,000 years ago
Was brought to his knees by a lion-ancestor foe.

Down went the bison on permafrost ground,
Which kept him from being eaten
or found.

Neither predator nor man disturbed the behemoth mass
As it remained encased in a protective frozen glass.

Leaping forward to 1979,
a team of explorers venture out to mine

Gold is what they are on the lookout for,
on the spot where the bison hit the floor

With a hydraulic mining hose, they melted away,
Some frozen sludge, 'til someone said, Whoa! Stop! Hey!

They reported their findings to University of Alaska Fairbanks officials
Dale Guthrie, led the excavation, limiting interstitials.

A close up view of Blue Babe, which is part of a permanent exhibit at the University of Alaska Museum of the North.
/ University of Alaska Museum of the North
/
University of Alaska Museum of the North
A close up view of Blue Babe, which is part of a permanent exhibit at the University of Alaska Museum of the North.

The skeleton, the skin, the muscles — all in near-impeccable condition,
Guthrie named it Blue Babe, then sliced off a piece for a culinary mission.

"You know what we can do?," he asked
Host a dinner party and with cooking the meat, I'll be tasked.

The Blue Babe neck steak served eight,
With veggies and spices, and lots of booze they ate

Years later, writing about the taste,
Guthrie said, When thawed, one could mistake

The aroma for beef, not unpleasantly earthy.
But once in the mouth, his wife, Mary Lee Guthrie,
Told podcasters from Gimlet, it was worse than beef jerky.

Still, it was a great party, she fondly remembered,
A dreamy symbolism of the meal that endured.

It was a feast; by all counts a true celebration
An "imagining of the human experience on earth!,"
She said, with elation.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Vanessa Romo is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers breaking news on a wide range of topics, weighing in daily on everything from immigration and the treatment of migrant children, to a war-crimes trial where a witness claimed he was the actual killer, to an alleged sex cult. She has also covered the occasional cat-clinging-to-the-hood-of-a-car story.