Did Explorers Club dine on mammoth or giant sloth meat in 1951?

| | February 8, 2016
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There aren’t a lot of people who have dined on meat from the Pleistocene, prehistoric humans notwithstanding. That’s why accounts of the 1951 Annual Dinner of the Explorers Club, a society of scientific adventurers, all agree that the organizer of the night, Wendell Phillips Dodge, threw the dinner party of the century. Legend has it that Dodge served the meat of a woolly mammoth.

Or was it an extinct giant ground sloth? Reports were inconsistent as to which prehistoric animal Dodge procured for the reception. “Some people said they ate sloth, and some people said they ate mammoth,” says Jessica Glass, a doctoral candidate in evolutionary biology at Yale. In a letter to Dodge, John Tee-Van, then-president of the Explorers Club, wrote, “I am still holding my query as to what the material was that you had at the dinner.”

Yeah. So just what in the last epoch did the 1951 Explorers Club eat that night?

As luck would have it, a single morsel of the allegedly prehistoric dish survived in a jar bearing the label “Megatherium (Extinct Sloth),” written in Dodge’s own hand. He had preserved the sliver of the meat for a naturalist named Paul Howes, the curator of a natural history museum, who was unable to attend the dinner. In doing so, Dodge inadvertently opened the door for two graduate students armed with DNA sequencing technology to unravel his hoax.

Read full, original post: Two Grad Students Use Science To Bust The Dinner Hoax Of The Century

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