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Sometimes, it really does feel like we’re living in an HG Wells novel. Recently, a food start-up has come up with a mammoth meatball. And yes, we’re referring to the prehistoric animal.

Woolly mammoths were creatures that walked the face of the earth during the last Ice Age. They have long been extinct, however, some remains were discovered in Arctic permafrost.

Photo: Twitter/@itsjustvow

As a result, scientists were able to study their genome, thus learning all kinds of interesting information about these animals.

But, their DNA isn’t just being used for scientific research. As it turns out, Vow – which is an Australian cultured meat company – has found a completely new use for their DNA: food!

During a media event, they were able to create a meatball made entirely from lab-grown mammoth meat. According to Reuters, this invention was shown off at a science museum event in the Netherlands.

Photo: Twitter/@itsjustvow

The process followed the typical process of making cultured meat. To do this, cells from a living animal must be extracted. Then, they are grown inside a lab using nutrient immersion. However, because they didn’t have direct access to mammoth tissue, they did manage to identify the mammoth version of the protein myoglobin.

This gives meat its texture, flavor, and color. The lab used the genome of the mammoth’s closest living relative, the African elephant, to fill in the gaps in genetic information. Then, the synthesized gene was inserted into a sheep muscle cell. From there, it was able to create about 400 grams of meat.

The scientific creation was shared on Twitter via Vow.

The company wrote, “We’re starting a conversation on what the future of food looks like (and from our view, it’s pretty exciting).”

While they might have come up with a lab-grown woolly mammoth meatball, no one has actually tasted it yet. The reason the scientific team has been hesitant to do so, is because the proteins they’re using have been around for more than 5,000 year, meaning there is a potential risk for allergic reaction.

While the lab might have grown a woolly mammoth meatball, the real purpose of the project was to highlight the great potential behind cultured meat and how it can be a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly alternative.

Photo: Flickr/Ivan Radic License: CC BY 2.0

The founder of the food startup, Tim Noakesmith, spoke with The Associated Press and said, “We wanted to get people excited about the future of food being different to potentially what we had before. That there are things that are unique and better than the meats that we’re necessarily eating now, and we thought the mammoth would be a conversation starter and get people excited about this new future.”

At the present moment, Vow is waiting to receive regulatory approval from Singapore, which is the first country to approve cultured meat, in order to begin selling the lab-grown quail meat it has created. And recently in the US, the FDA has approved lab-grown chicken as fit for human consumption.

What do you think of cultured meat? Would you ever be willing to try a woolly mammoth meatball? Do you think cultured meat is the future? Let us know!