Tuesday, 15 January 2013

How many calories are there in a mammoth?

 A novel like SONG HUNTER must deal in practicalities. If your Neanderthal band has killed a mammoth, how long will it feed them?

 I love doing the arithmetic of this sort of thing. First of all you need to know how many people you’re feeding, and then how many calories each person will need to survive. To know that you need to know about their metabolism, the climate, their clothes, what shelter they have, and how active they are.

 Then, of course, you need to know how many calories there are in a mammoth.

 It’s amazing what you can find on the internet. I made a rough guess at the answer by starting off with the number of calories in an elephant (six million) and allowing for the fact that mammoths were bigger and carried lots of fat.

 Then I had to allow for all the scavenging animals of the place muscling in on the kill. My Neanderthals certainly wouldn't get to eat the whole thing.

 Yes, I know I had to make estimate upon estimate upon estimate.

But I did came up with some sort of a working answer, in the end.



  1. Pretty sure there won't have been many CHUBBY Neanderthals....hope you're going to put up the number of calories in a mammoth. Ball Park figure I'm guessing: 20 million.All that fat!

  2. Yes, you're right, I should put up the number of calories in a mammoth - and if I could only remember the figure I came up with, I would do!

    I think I decided the number of calories might be as much as double the elephant figure, but after allowing for scavangers and wastage I think it came back to the cool six million: enough to keep my Neanderthal band going for about two months.