Paleolithic Kitchen Rejects
from the book, "Petrified Lightning"

Petrified Lightning

Paleolithic Kitchen Rejects

During the early 1980s, fox hunters from the Indigirka River in eastern Siberia were puzzled that one of their fellow hunters managed to trap a fox every day while they often caught nothing at all. They investigated and found that the successful hunter had been baiting traps with meat from a fossil mammoth! The foxes apparently were fascinated by the unusual taste of well—aged meat that had been preserved in the permafrost for thousands of years.

Scientists who heard the news explored further and eventually found traces of an ancient human settlement. It was dated radiometrically and found to be at least 13,000 years old. The investigators found many charred mammoth bones that they originally described as "kitchen rejects."

Later, when the scientists found meat still covering many of the bones, they reasoned that the bones had been buried by the ancient hunters and saved for a rainy day. The rainy day apparently never arrived, and the buried cache was eventually forgotten. The permanently frozen condition of the encasing soil served as a refrigerant, and the meat had been perfectly preserved during 13 millennia.

The fossil cache of kitchen reserves was accidentally discovered by the modern fox hunter, who decided to try some as bait. The success far exceeded his most optimistic hopes. Although tempted, he never screwed his courage to the point where he would taste the ancient meat himself.