Most people satisfy their occasional instances of morbid curiosity by checking Wikipedia, YouTube or the Internet. With the topic of cannibalism being largely hidden and unappealing to modern society, much of its culture and origins have been filtered out of our lives.
Now, one can have access to such pieces of information through books. Bill Schutt, an American Museum of Natural History researcher, has published a new book named Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History that explores cannibalism across the years and around the globe.
For those who are fearful of its contents, you can feel a bit more at ease knowing that the book is empirically supported, with Schutt going through a number of ordeals to back his facts: drawing on scholarly journals and ancient texts, interviewing biologists and anthropologists, and leading field studies as well.
For example, epicurean cannibalism (eating humans just because they tasted good), was present during the Yuan dynasty. Upper-class citizens and members of Chinese royalty would dine on humans. Schutt even takes up 13 pages of the book and explains how these unorthodox meals were prepared. Methods included baking, roasting, broiling and many more. Other societies such as the Donner party, the New Guinea highlanders, and even Europeans regularly consumed human remains not only out of starvation but for pleasure.
The normality of cannibalism comes from its extension into the natural world. Among invertebrates, which accounts for 95 percent of animal life on earth, cannibalism is more common than one would think. This ‘unusual’ feasting also happens in every class of vertebrates, and this is thoroughly explained in Schutt’s book.
Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History was written not to scare or weird people out, but to offer understanding of an otherwise immediately dismissed taboo. Learning about cannibalism’s history is a insightful way of knowing how things happen, and not simply dismissing it as something altogether malicious. Still, I think I’ll pass on eating my friends, thank you very much.
Learn more about the history of cannibalism with this informative video below!
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Featured image via Scientific American