Cannibals weren’t just lazy — they also lacked good nutrition…

❝ Note to the prehistoric party planner: One dead mammoth can feed 25 hungry Neanderthals for a month, but cannibalizing a human would provide the crowd with only a third of a day’s calories…Essentially, you’re a walking lunch.

❝ A study of ancient cannibalism estimated the food value of humans and Paleolithic animals…The findings: People are not so nutritious.

Humans have a low percentage of muscle and little caloric value.

❝ A new look at the nutritional value of human flesh shows that, compared with other Paleolithic prey animals, humans weren’t especially packed with calories for their size.

…Study author James Cole of the University of Brighton says…boars and beavers pack about 1,800 calories into each pound of muscle compared with a measly 650 calories from a modern human. That’s about what would be expected based on our overall size and muscularity compared to other animals…So…if humans aren’t especially valuable in terms of prey, why eat them? After all, unless they are sick or dying, they wouldn’t be easy to hunt…

Instead, Cole argues that perhaps not all ancient cannibalism was for filling bellies; it may have also served various social functions for early humans and their ancestors.

Gimme that old time religion!

❝ Archaeologists have found evidence of cannibalism in the human family tree at least as far back as 800,000 years. And though cutting and gnawing marks on bones can’t reveal motivations, ancient remains do offer a few clues to how widespread cannibalistic practices were throughout human evolution…

❝ Perhaps, anthropologist Erik Trinkaus says, the real message is that ancient people had more of a mix of motivations for cannibalism than we’ve given them credit for. After all, human cannibalism in recent centuries has many roots, including warfare, survival, spiritual beliefs, and psychosis.

The article is interesting in the diversity of patterns examined around the archaeologic world. Including conclusions about how and what cultural patterns contribute to the practice.

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