Research conducted by archaeologists show that dating all the way back to 800,000 years ago, humans practiced cannibalism.
However, new nutritional values of human flesh show that humans don’t have as much calories or nutritional value as one might expect.
Study author, James Cole, from the University of Brighton said, “When you compare us to other animals, we’re not very nutritional at all.”
Cole’s studies show that compared to beavers and boars that each have 1,800 calories per each pound of muscle, humans only have 650 calories.
Although human flesh doesn’t offer proper nutrition, cannibalism still did occur in the past. There are a few reasons as to why human flesh was first choice over other prey.
One of the reasons was not only to fill empty stomachs, but for rituals or to use the bones as a way to threaten outsiders.
Silvia Bello, anthropologist at the Natural History Museum in London, said, “I agree with [Cole] that Paleolithic cannibalism was probably more often practiced as a ‘choice’ rather than a mere necessity.”
Erik Trinkaus, anthropologist from Washington University in St. Louis, believes that cannibalism was a means for survival when there was no other choice.
“It is an issue of survival when there are no other food sources, members of one’s social group have died, and the surviving members consume the bodies of already-dead people,” Trinkaus said.
Bill Schutt, author and biology professor at Long Island University’s Post campus, believes that cannibalism in ancient times could be labeled as ‘opportunistic.’
“Cannibalism is extremely widespread in the animal kingdom…We’ve been patterned to believe that cannibalism is the worst thing you could do,” said Schutt.
See the full story on NationalGeographic.com.