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From dKosopedia

A cannibal is an animal that eats others of its own species or genus.



Many species, including guppies and pigs, will eat their own young. Chimpanzees, the closest genetic species to homo sapiens sapiens, will kill and eat the unrelated young of other chimpanzees. The young of some species will also eat one another. Among the many natural horrors arguing against intelligent design (creationism lite) is the behavior of fetal nurse sharks. Female nurse sharks have two uteri and produce as many as 20 eggs in each. When the eggs harch the fetal nurse sharks begin feeding on one another and only one usually manages to emerge alive from the combat in each uterus.

Cannibalism can occur when a predator species population members is deprived of its normal prey. For example, research shows that polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea region of northern Alaska began to prey one another in 2005. Global warming is melting sea ice on which polar bears depend for hunting ringed seals, their primary prey species.

Eating members of a related species in the same genus is also considered cannibalism by some. When Homo Sapiens Sapiens killed and ate Homo Sapiens Neanderthalis, as is likely, that would be considered to be cannibalism by most experts, as they are both in Genus Homo.


Some anthropologists believe that the primary reason for cannibalism being taboo in most contemporary human cultures is that it may spread disease. Ebola, for instance, can infect both chimpanzees and humans, so, eating chimps spreads that disease into humans. The taboo should thus apply to any species close enough to catch rare diseases. Still, people are the perfect protein food for people. Disease notwithstanding, humans contain exactly the right ingredients to feed other humans. That's why cannibalism continued to be practiced in the tropics into modern times. Cannibalism occurs frequently in accounts of some societies in sub-Saharan Africa, MesoAmerica, the Caribbean and Australasia. Cannibalism is also important in many traditional belief systems. For example, the martial tradition in Cambodia is for victors to cook and eat the liver of their defeated enemies.

The idea that cannibalism was endemic in the South Pacific before the arrival of Europeans is dismissed by some armchair anthropologists. In his 2005 book Cannibal Talk: The Man-Eating Myth and Human Sacrifice in the South Seas Gannath Obeyesekere argues that the myth was the result of mis-comunication between Euuropean explorers and the island peoples they encountered.

Cannibalism is such an important taboo violation that it is unsurprising that it has been used in political propaganda. On June 13, 1940, for example, the SS weekly periodical Das Schwarze Korps accused French African troops fighting against the German invasion of France of cannibalism. By definition such people were not entitled to the rights of captured POWs under the Geneva Convention of 1929, and as may as 3000 French African troops were summarily executed after their capture.

In March 2007, 36 year old Papua New Guinean religious cult leader Steven Tari was arrested in Matepi, Papua New Guinea. Tari, who referred to himself as the "black Jesus" is believed to have raped, murdered and eated at least three women. Rather than a lone serial killer, the failed bible student has some six thousand followers as he travelled through mountain villages promising disciples gifts from heaven if they joined his congregation.

According to Gwendolyn Blue, Assistant Professor of Communication and Culture at the University of Calgary, the image of the "cannibal creates such a reaction in us because it's a taboo and it's linked with a deep history of fears." So powerful is the emotional reaction that it may undermine research into the causes of "mad cow disease."



Extrnal Links

Cannibalism as Crime

Cannibalism in Popular Culture

Cannibalism in Humor

Cannibalism in Science Fiction

Cannibalism in Science Fiction

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This page was last modified 13:20, 30 May 2007 by dKosopedia user Thorvelden. Based on work by Chad Lupkes and dKosopedia user(s) BartFraden, Allamakee Democrat and Anonymous troll. Content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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