An ostrich-like dinosaur known as an ornithomimid would probably yield the most consumer-friendly cut of meat, while still maintaining a unique dinosaur taste.
Much of the flavor in a cut of meat comes from its fat composition, and an animal's diet contributes significantly to this. However, due to the average consumer's taste for meat that is not too strong-tasting, it is more important to figure out what we don't want the animals we consume to be eating. Dinosaurs that ate marine animals would definitely be off the list, not only for their fishy flavor, but also because the high amount of oil in fish would make the meat more susceptible to oxidation, which would give it a rancid taste. In fact, any carnivorous dinosaur would not fare too well in the supermarket. Most people prefer meat that comes from herbivorous animals—think cow, deer, bison— since animal fat found in a carnivore's diet adds a significant amount of "gamey" flavor. And some dinosaurs' diets are far too unappetizing to consider.
"When people ask me if a T-Rex would be good, well, I don't think so," David Varricchio, professor of paleontology at Montana State University, says. "They've found jaw abnormalities that suggests they were eating fetid meat and had diseases that came about from prey items. They would be pretty parasite-laden."
Just as important in the search for the best cut of dinosaur meat would be the level and type of activity for which the dinosaur was built.
As for exactly which dinosaur would be most appetizing, one with red meat would have just enough flavor as compared to one with blander white meat. Theories that dinosaurs would have tasted like chicken abound since dinosaurs are so closely related to birds, but for many land-dwelling dinosaurs, beef may be a closer guess. The kind of activity an animal does determines what kind of meat it yields. Red meat is composed of slow-twitch muscle fibers, which are built for sustained periods of activity, so animals that are active for longer amounts of time throughout the day would be composed of mostly red meat. Those who ambush their prey or move quickly for short periods of time would have white meat, which is composed of fast-twitch muscles that allow for quick bursts of activity. So dinosaurs taking part in extended periods of activity would probably have muscles less like a chicken (or even a fast-acting predator like a cheetah) and more like a steady-moving cow.
Ornithomimosaurs were a group of ostrich-like dinosaurs that were part of the suborder Theropoda from which modern birds evolved. They were close enough to birds that they likely had feathers and were warm-blooded, but they were very active animals with large hind legs for prolonged periods of running, so their muscles would probably have been mainly slow-twitch, less like modern birds. Though most theropods were carnivorous, ornithomimids were unique in that they had no teeth, a fact that has led most to believe they ate mostly plant matter.
"About 80 percent of the ornithomimids were hindquarters, and they were really well-suited for running," Varricchio says. "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."
That's not to say other dinosaurs wouldn't make a tasty meal either. Velociraptors, being wild ambush predators, may have had gamier-tasting white meat comparable to a carnivorous bird such as a hawk. Taking into consideration activity level and diet could yield a huge variety of possibilities were dinosaurs ever to roam our pastures and grocery stores.
"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. Sauropods, the largest animals to ever walk the earth, may have made for an interesting meal as well. Their long necks, used to reach high-up food sources, could have resulted in a unique cut of sturdy red meat weighing several tons. Says Varricchio, "Sauropod neck could be a delicacy."
Florida native Erin Berger is a junior at Northwestern University. She is studying journalism and anthropology with a special interest in health, social justice and, of course, dinosaurs.
This is such a well written non-practical article. I have always wondered to myself of my dinning choices of 65 million years ago or longer food, I have no chance of eating -NOT.
Gosh, thanks PoPSCi! ;)
Oh, on the first chance that science does replicate and grown some dinosaur from preserved DNA as incredible as that will be, I do not believe first choice will be to make a barbeque or make lunch of their new found discovery.
That there's some good eatin'... mmmhmm...
Shut up robot, what do you even do? You just go around to every popsci article and criticize things in your terrible english
Dinosaurs have the same dillema, what kind of human tastes better? red, black, yellow, white?
No you shut up, lol. Hey, thanks for your contribution to this article - NOT.
And if PoPSCi readers decide to read your comments from your profile, they will find a repetition of you insulting everyone and commenting little to the articles, again and again...
Please read the article and comment on it, ok. ;)
Let's cline them via DNA from amber/mosquito's like in the movie and find out what they taste like!!
A pork dinosaur would taste best.
@ riff raff,
give me ostrich dino any day, ostrich steak beats beef fillet.
yumm, bronto bergers ala fred flinstone.
Nicely written and unique fun & facts article. Good work, Erin. Good pickup, PopSci.
in order to thank everyone, characteristic, novel style, varieties, low price and good quality, and the low sale price. Thank everyone
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Not sure about your hypothesis regarding the taste of animals.
Animals eating fish are usually tasting good, and have no fishy taste. Fish eating fish taste like ... fish, which is in order of things. But wild ducks or geese are not tasting fish even though they are eating fish. And wild duck tastes way even better than duck from farms (in my taste, anyway).
Also, about predators, I would rather think that our distaste of their meat is due to modern habits and practical aspects. I was raised in a village in Northern Canada and we used to eat lynx meat, which was tasting great. It was part of our local culture to eat it. We never questionned it. Nowadays, people are used to getting meat from the market and the idea of killing it themselve or eating meat from animal that feed on other animals seems a bit disturbing to many. But it is mainly cultural and I don't think our ancestors were that much sensitive to that aspect. Also, I guess, those animals may be a bit tougher to raise in a farm than cattle, chickens or pigs.
As a matter of fact, we are even eating animal that are part time scavengers, like crabs of lobsters and enjoy it as delicacy!
If we were to go back in the past and have to eat dinosaurs, I think the size of the animal to hunt would bother us way more than the taste, since some were kind of big and would be harder to hunt.
What kind of dinosaur would be most nutritious and the easiest to kill? That's what I want to know...
Along with the perhaps unsavory, and often unpopular, flavors of meat from carnivores, there could be problems stemming from the diets of herbivorous dinos.
Consider that Koalas, which eat only eucalyptus leaves, are known to exude the odor of eucalyptus oil.
In a similar manner, Diplodicids are believed to have eaten mostly conifer needles. Would people want meat that tastes like pine tar or turpentine?
I hesitate to be contrary and especially hate to blow a nicely-written article out of the water but...
It seems to me the tastiest dinosaur would be one you can actually eat.
That would pretty much limit our choice to the known dinosaurs still remaining, ie: alligators and crocodiles.
Both alligators and crocodiles are carnivores, they both eat fish... and they are both quite tasty. So I apologize, but I believe that kinda blows a hole in the premise of the article large enough to drive a tank through.
Add to this that "tasty" is usually according to the tongue of the taster. Some people like red meat. Some people like white meat. Some people love deer meat, others can't stand it. I think wild squirrel and rabbit is particularly tasty. Others I've spoken to don't like them at all.
So which dinosaur would be the tastiest? I'll go with alligator, which I've eaten twice and enjoyed immensely, thank you very much. : )