(p. A11) The story of the 1951 annual Explorers Club dinner is famous, at least among explorers, paleontologists and connoisseurs of exotic cuisine. In brief, mammoth was served.
A club member and journalist reported on the menu shortly afterward in The Christian Science Monitor, and club members have been talking about it ever since.
“At my first dinner, when I was a new member, they told me about it,” said Jack Horner, a dinosaur paleontologist at Montana State University and an inspiration for the character of the paleontologist in the original “Jurassic Park” book. “And they were talking about having another.”
Sadly, as with so many great stories, this one was too good to be true, as a group of Yale researchers reported Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.
. . .
They assumed the flesh was thousands of years old, which meant that testing for DNA was more complicated than testing a more recent bit of flesh. “Also,” she said, “the meat was cooked.”
. . .
In the end, after multiple tests, the team determined that the meat was neither mammoth nor sloth, nor ancient, nor even a mammal. Turtle soup had also been on the menu that night, before sea turtles were in such trouble, and the bit of flesh that the scientists tested turned out to be green sea turtle, Chelonia mydas.
It seems that Mr. Dodge had been having a bit of fun, and that he was the only one in on the joke.
For the full story, see:
JAMES GORMAN. “The Explorers Club Once Served Mammoth at a Meal. Or Did It?” The New York Times (Tues., FEB. 4, 2016): A11.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date FEB. 3, 2016.)
The academic article that documents what the Explorers ate, is:
Glass, Jessica R., Matt Davis, Timothy J. Walsh, Eric J. Sargis, and Adalgisa Caccone. “Was Frozen Mammoth or Giant Ground Sloth Served for Dinner at the Explorers Club?” PLoS ONE 11, no. 2 (2016): e0146825.