Cannibalism: A History of People Who Eat People

posted: 05/14/15
Cannibalism: A History of People Who Eat People
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Humans and our ancestors practiced cannibalism for hundreds of thousands of years.

By TALAL AL-KHATIB, Discovery News

A Multicourse History

Any shopper walking down the aisles of a modern grocery is spoiled for choice when it comes to food options. As of 2008, the number of products carried by the average supermarket stood around 47,000, according to Consumer Reports.

There is one particular item, however, that shouldn't ever appear in anyone's shopping cart, despite its place as a historical foodstuff, particularly during desperate times: human meat.

Cannibalism strikes the human conscience like few other taboo acts, eliciting a mix of dread, disdain and plain old nausea. But as seen in this slideshow, humans eating other humans has been an inseparable part of our history.

Did you know?:

  • Homo antecessor, the last common ancestor between Neanderthals and modern humans, would hold cannibal feasts on rival groups.
  • The oldest evidence of cannibalism suggests early humans ate other humans as part of funeral rites.
  • Residents of towns under siege would resort to cannibalism to stay alive.
  • Human remains were once used to help treat maladies as common as headache.
  • Evidence suggests colonists in Jamestown, Va. resorted to cannibalism during "the starving time."
  • There is a tribe of people in Australia who still practice cannibalism, according to a journalist who spent time with them.

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