Ray Mears fact-checked The Revenant

Could a man really sleep inside a dead horse for warmth?

Jacob Stolworthy
Monday 18 January 2016 10:01 GMT

The Revenant may be an awards frontrunner (leading the Oscars race with 12 nominations) but how realistic a portrayal of a true survival story actually is it? Survival expert and BBC presenter Ray Mears has weighed in.

Based on Michael Punke's 2002 novel, the film from director Alejandro González Iñárritu tracks the story of fur trapper Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) whose hunting team leave him for dead in the American wilderness after he's horrifically mauled by a bear.

For those who have seen the Golden Globe-winning film, you'll more than likely recall memorable scenes including DiCaprio's character tucking into raw bison liver (despite the actor actually being a vegetarian).

The Telegraph asked Mears about the usefulness of such actions.

On whether somebody could actually sleep inside a dead horse, Mears said: "That is possible and people have done it. But he’d freeze to death after one night.

"I’m not sure whether the horse would provide enough insulation, it depends on the temperature.

"A buffalo would be fine. A buffalo’s fur is very, very thick and the fat is very thick, so it would take a long while to freeze."

In reference to the now-infamous raw bison liver scene, Mears not only stated the liver would be "fine to eat" but would, in actuality, "be very important."

"If you eat raw liver, you get complete amino acids, so it will prevent starvation," he explained.

"It’s very good to eat it raw because the liver contains a lot of blood and blood contains carbohydrates, which will help keep you warm. It acts as a wick that enables you to burn the wax, which is the fat in your body. So it actually enables you to utilise the resources your body already has."

Mears took issue with DiCaprio surviving a plummet from a cliff on horseback however.

"It’s unlikely [he'd survive]," he said. "He’d much more likely have plummeted and died in a heap, along with the horse."

Handy to know for the next time you're stranded in the wilderness with only the promise of an Oscar to keep you warm.

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