We condemn cannibalism. Our resentment to cannibalism is hard-wired. However, surprisingly enough, we are also hard-wired to cannibalism. Isn’t that a fallacy? No matter how disturbing or untrue it may sound, given the brew of right conditions, our survival instincts will kick in and overtake our resentment, forcing us to step beyond and turn to cannibalism. It is know that our ancient ancestors were very much into the practice of eating human flesh but we are no different today. Even in modern society, cannibalism continues to be practiced! Let us learn 30 interesting cannibalism facts and figure out what we humans are capable of.
Interesting Cannibalism Facts: 1-15
1. So how does human meat tastes like? Ask the cannibals! Issei Sagawa – a cannibal from Japan says, “It is gamey and odorless”. Armin Meiwes – a cannibal from Germany says, “Pretty much like pork but slightly more stronger and bitter.” Cannibals from Polynesia say that human meat tastes much like pork.
2. Because most cannibals report the taste of human flesh like that of pork, we have a nice moniker in place. Human meat is known by the name ‘Long Pig’.
3. Issei Sagawa ate his classmate while he was in Paris. Armin Meiwes ate a person who willing wanted to be eaten. Armin ate about 20 kg flesh from the willing person’s body.
4. The taste of human flesh however depends on a number of factors such:
- Age – the younger the victim, the more tender the meat is.
- The part of the body eaten.
- The method of cooking used. [Watch the famous TV series Hannibal for the cooking methods!]
5. A tribe known as Fore in Papua New Guinea was popular for cannibalism. However in 1950s, some of the tribal people were diagnosed with a disease known as Kuru. This is a disease which is known to be spread exclusively by eating human flesh that is infected.
6. Kuru in human beings is same as infamous Mad Cow disease found in cows. Kuru kills as it is a degenerative and incurable disease with symptoms including slurred speech, hysterical laughter, inability to swallow and move and tremors.
7. Kuru is spread by eating the brain of the dead man. It is the brain where the infected killer protein sits. This protein is known as prion. Unfortunately, the Fore people used to ritualistically eat everything of their dead people – from bones to brains to muscles and even feces.
8. The Fore people practiced this because they believed that it is the only way of keeping the souls of the dead close to the living. Unfortunately, this deadly disease with the usual incubation period of 10-13 years (and rarely 50 years) played its dirty trick and killed the affected people within a year from the symptoms’ onset. Fortunately, only a handful of people turned out to be resistant to the deadly disease Kuru.
9. There are multiple types of cannibalism available. All have different definition but eventually, all those means sampling long pig in one way or other. The most popular forms are endocannibalism and exocannibalism.
10. Endocannibalism simply referred to what people of Fore tribe practiced. By definition, it means eating the dead people with the belief that the souls of the deceased can live closely to their living families.
11. Exocannibalism means eating others in order to get hold of their life forces and powers. For example, soldiers eating the meat and organs of their dead enemies to get their powers. Usually, selective body parts are eaten in this form of cannibalism.
12. Practitioners of exocannibalism usually target the following organs:
- Brain – for getting the knowledge of their enemies.
- Heart – for getting the power and courage of their enemies.
- Legs – for getting the speed of their enemies. However, legs are eaten only of the fallen victim was a fast runner.
13. There is something called involuntary auto-cannibalism. Almost every human being alive today practices this form of cannibalism. Eating dead skill cells, biting fingernails etc. are all considered involuntary auto-cannibalism. This is very benign.
14. There is a more sinister form of auto-cannibalism. This is known as voluntary auto-cannibalism and involves biting off muscles and eating them altogether for body modifications. People may even end up eating their own blood – an act referred to as auto-vampirism.
15. Involuntary auto-cannibalism can be extremely sinister as well. This happens when a person is being forced to eat his or her own muscles or other body parts. An example occurred in 1934 when a black man named Claude Neal of Florida was captured by 2,000 Southerners of white skin. These 2,000 men removed the testicles of Neal and forced him to eat them. Later, then skinned Neal alive and burned him. (Americans are great saviors of world but barely speak of their own sinister acts.)
Interesting Cannibalism Facts: 16-30
16. During WWII, the Japanese soldiers often resorted to cannibalism. During those bloody years, the Japs earned themselves the reputation of killing and eating civilians but more often prisoners of war either because they believed in exocannibalism or they simply ran out of food and needed some food source for survival.
17. Because humans are blessed with survival instincts, they often turn towards what is known as survival cannibalism. Simply put, humans can likely eat dead people or simply kill and then eat fellow humans in case they are starving.
18. Most famous case of survival cannibalism is that of infamous plane crash of 1972 in Andes. The plane was carrying the rugby team of Uruguay. Those who survived the crash ate the dead people in order to stay alive in the harsh and freezing temperatures. The dead meat of the fellow passengers helped them to live for 72 days before they were finally rescued.
19. Anthropologists say that survival cannibalism is in particular an excellent tool for surviving but that is true for the short term. In the long term, if humans resort to cannibalism for survival, the entire race will be wiped out from inside out – more like an implosion. All we have to do is eat each other until whole of humanity collapses and there is no one left to be eaten.
20. And, how can we forget medical cannibalism? Practiced widely in European nations during the Middle Ages, medical cannibalism meant eating human parts for medical benefits. It was widely believed that human parts were perfect for curing several aliments such as gout and headache. Ironically, it was the name Europe which denounced cannibalism among tribal people as barbaric. Europeans are always like that. They say something else and do something else. They change colors better than chameleons. Let us take the example of the word: BELIEVE. Do you notice the dichotomy? Look carefully at the very center of the word which spells ‘LIE’.
21. Europeans in Middle Age used to think that:
- Human fat was capable of successfully treating rheumatism and arthritis.
- Human fat was capable of healing wounds.
- Human blood could treat conditions like epilepsy and other forms of spastic conditions.
- Flesh of Egyptian mummies were thought to have healing power against several ailments.
22. Female virgins and young men hanged to death were highly priced most sought after. In case of female virgins, the most sought after prize was blood from their body and also their menstrual blood.
23. Young men hanged to death were prized because many men had posthumous erection after death. Erection was viewed as strength and virility. That’s why, flesh from these dead young men were highly prized and sought-after.
24. Karen Hylen, a therapist from California says that cannibalism is highly addictive. Once a person commits cannibalism, his or her brain is flooded with dopamine, which increases the feel-good factor – a feeling similar to that of snorting cocaine. This is why, according to Karen, once a person samples long pig, he or she can barely resist.
25. One of the most famous cases of cannibalism was that of the Donner party. It was an American pioneers’ group that embarked on a journey to California in year 1846. They were caught in snow in Sierra Nevada and ran out of food. That’s when committed to cannibalism. Only 48 out of 87 in the group eventually managed to reach California.
26. In 1933 Joseph Stalin imposed a famine in Ukraine. The conditions went so wrong there that people eventually resorted to cannibalism.
27. In China there was a practice known as Ko Kan and Ko Ku. It was a cannibalistic ritual in which daughters and sons would willing donate their body parts to their parents who were sick. It is believed that those parents would eat those body parts and become healthy. It was a common practice for daughters and sons to donate their livers. Miao Chuang was princess who gave away both her hands to her father who was ill. After this Miao Chuang was deified.
28. In 2013, archeologists found in Colonial Jamestown, America, evidences of cannibalism. They found a skull, which they believed was of a 14-year old girl. The marks on the skull indicated that she was a victim of cannibalism during the harsh winters of 1609.
29. Four 19th century missionaries were killed, cooked and eaten by Papua New Guinea’s Tolai tribe. Taleli, who was the warrior chief of the tribe order the killings. The Tolai tribe finally accepted the killings and apologized for the same in 2007.
30. Today cannibalism is spreading at a very fast rate in form of placentophagy – the practice of eating placenta with the belief of health benefits.