Prehistoric Cannibalism: Ancient People Left Evidence Of Their Human Feasting, New Study Finds

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Apr 09, 2017 09:00 PM EDT

Previous studies claimed that ancient people ate human flesh to obtain more protein when a supply of food became scanty. The incidence of a prehistoric cannibalism might be true, but it’s more on ritual reasons, a new study found.

According to Mail Online, human bones with traces of man-sized teeth were found in caves and tombs around the world. This caused the scientists to conclude that prehistoric cannibalism really existed.

In the new study, the researchers modeled human body to compute the calorie content of each part. They then discovered that prehistoric cannibalism was not a healthy practice since it only contains a few nutrients.

Wild horse, bear or boar contained more than three times of calories in fat and protein as compared to an ancient human body, the researchers noted. The study provides a supporting explanation that the concept of prehistoric cannibalism in Neanderthals, homo Erectus and other hominins was due to cultural purposes. The study’s findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

"Episodes of Palaeolithic cannibalism have frequently been defined as 'nutritional' in nature, but with little empirical evidence to assess their dietary significance," Dr. James Cole from the University of Brighton said. "It seems unreasonable to think that early humans wouldn't have had as complex an attitude to cannibalism as we modern humans," Cole continued.

Ancient people may have numerous reasons why they ate each other as the modern individuals do. However, prehistoric cannibalism it’s not all about the meat, he added.

An example of a prehistoric cannibalism with significant cultural or ritual reason is sucking a human leg bone marrow or biting on a spleen. These might be the ancient people's way of confirming territorial power and of showing respect to their dead family members, the study explained.

Furthermore, early people were more likely sophisticated than modern society perceived. A prehistoric cannibalism is fairly common as per the assessment of the fossil record alongside a recent genetic study.

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