Blue Babe: Would You Eat 36,000-year-old Bison Meat?

By: April Carson



The Alaskan Gold Rush, which began in the late 1800s, brought a flood of prospectors and miners to this American state. Many prospectors have discovered frozen mummies of long-extinct animals while mining operations were going on.


The name Blue Babe refers to a mummified Alaskan steppe bison that was discovered in 1979. One of the most fascinating aspects of Blue Babe is that it was found to be almost completely preserved, which is exceptional for animals who perished during Blue Babe's era.


A number of scientific analyses of the carcass and frozen dirt that encased Blue Babe have produced a wealth of information, which helped researchers reconstruct the bison's story, in particular its last days.


Finding and Excavating Blue Babe


Ice Age animal bones would be taken but not always kept. Imperfect prehistoric relics were often discarded by miners, who preferred gold to frozen animal remains. In 1979, the Roman family of gold miners, Walter and Ruth, and their sons were mining in Fairbanks. Water leaking out of the hydraulic mining hose melted the frozen earth around Blue Babe, allowing the section of the bison's frozen remains that she was buried in to be revealed.


In honor of the creature's metallic blue sheen, which resembled that of Babe the Blue Ox from Paul Bunyan folklore, the miners dubbed their find Blue Babe.

The miners, who were aware of the amazing significance of their discovery, contacted the University of Alaska and sent paleontologist Russell Dale Guthrie to the region. The creature was identified as a steppe bison type from the Ice Age, suggesting it was tens of thousands of years old.


To prevent the carcass from deteriorating, Guthrie decided to dig right away. However, because the ground was still frozen and there were several large ice wedges nearby, this option was not feasible. Because it was summer, the earth warmed up a bit each day until finally all of the animal's flesh had melted save for its head and neck.


When the hide was removed, Guthrie realized that the exposed portions of the carcass were decaying. The corpse was carried back to the university and refrozen. Blue Babe's head and neck were subsequently thawed, excavated, and put with the rest of the animal when they began to decay.


36,000 Years Ago, Blue Babe Walked the Land


At the University of Alaska, scientists began studying Blue Babe. Radiocarbon dating of a portion of Blue Babe's hide revealed that the bison had perished 36,000 years ago. It was previously stated that the animal would be carbon-dated again using Accelerated Mass Spectrometry, which would provide a more precise date.


Blue Babe has been linked to an extinct Ice Age lion subspecies that lived in North America, according to some sources. Blue Babe's scratch marks on the back and tooth punctures on its skin are evidence of this, as well as a piece of a lion's tooth found in its neck. Blue Babe's fur coat, teeth, and horns, as well as its fat level, suggested that it perished in the early winter.


The start of winter, as well as the fact that the lions were unable to return to complete their meal due to the plummeting temperature, aided in preserving Blue Babe for future study.


Trying Ice Age Bison Meat


One of the most incredible tales about Blue Babe is that some of it was cooked and eaten by the scientists who were researching it. In 1984, Guthrie and his team were preparing Blue Babe for a display.


According to the researchers, a single slice of neck tissue from an animal was removed and they decided to prepare a meal out of it, which they then divvied up. The flesh was said to have a strong, earthy smell but was delicious. It was also noted that although the flesh was tough, it tasted good.


Blue Babe, or rather a plaster replica of the bison draped in its tanned and treated hide, is on exhibit at the University of Alaska's Museum of the North today.





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About the Blogger:


April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com


To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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