Home Science Biology Which dinosaur would have tasted best?

Sauropod neck could be a delicacy! When palaeontologists gather around the barbecue, beer in hand, talk will generally turn to thoughts of the best dinosaur steaks.

David Varricchio, professor of Palaeontology at Montana State University, was one such Palaeontologist and was prepared to voice his opinions in public.

"When people ask me if a T-Rex would be good, well, I don't think so," Varricchio, said. "They've found jaw abnormalities that suggest they were eating fetid meat and had diseases that came about from prey items. They would be pretty parasite-laden."

OK, no T-Rex. And that probably leaves out most of the other large carnivores for much the same reason; also that the meat of a carnivore is exceptionally 'gamey' and rarely to human taste.

Prof. Varricchio explained that white meat was primarily composed of fast-twitch muscle and was generally found in those animals that required short bursts of speed (chickens, for instance), while those requiring sustained periods of activity (such as cows) would have the slow-twitch muscles of red meat.

With that in mind, he suggested quite quickly that the majority of dinosaurs (particularly those worth eating) would most likely be herbivorous and thus composed of red meat (despite the popular myth: "tastes like chicken").

"About 80 percent of the ornithomimids were hindquarters (think 200kg drumsticks!), and they were really well-suited for running," observed Varricchio. "I've also done a little work on their bone histology and it's safe to say they're relatively fast-growing. I think it would be a lean, slightly wild-tasting red meat." Perhaps like a very large; VERY large, turkey or ostrich.

"You could get into cuts of meat. Armored dinosaurs mainly used their tails for defense, so that would probably be a lot of good white meat. Hadrosaurs were quadrupedal and spent much of their time on the move; I suspect they would be largely red meat," Varricchio says. Attention then turned to the sauropods, the largest animals to ever walk the earth. Their long necks, generally assumed to be for reaching high-up food sources would provide a unique cut of sturdy red meat weighing several tons. "Sauropod neck could be a delicacy."

But the oven or barbecue to cook such a piece of meat has yet to be built!

Of course the final word would have to go to Clive Palmer, Australia's most colourful billionaire, who has plans to build a real-life Jurassic Park on the back blocks of his Coolum Resort. It seems he's already been talking to the team that created Dolly-the-sheep to gauge their interest in resurrecting a number of dinosaurs.  He also has plans to built a replica of the Titanic, so he's no stranger to dinosaurs.

Aside from the problem of actually killing a dinosaur weighing a couple of hundred tonnes (or more!), one could be assured that the 'spare ribs' in the restaurant would be remarkably Flintstonesque in scale!

…and served with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, of course.

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David Heath

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David Heath has over 25 years experience in the IT industry, specializing particularly in customer support, security and computer networking. Heath has worked previously as head of IT for The Television Shopping Network, as the network and desktop manager for Armstrong Jones (a major funds management organization) and has consulted into various Australian federal government agencies (including the Department of Immigration and the Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence). He has also served on various state, national and international committees for Novell Users International; he was also the organising chairman for the 1994 Novell Users' Conference in Brisbane. Heath is currently employed as an Instructional Designer, building technical training courses for industrial process control systems.

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