Prehistoric people ‘ate each other out of choice - not to survive’

A scientist has worked out how many calories there are in different parts of the human body – and it points to a chilling conclusion about cannibalism among early humans.

Dr James Cole of the University of Brighton says that relative to other meats such as mammoth or deer, humans offered a paltry amount of nutrition.

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A 10 stone human has approximately 32,000 calories in their muscle tissue compared to 163,000 calories in the muscle tissue of a deer and an estimated 3.6 million calories for the muscle tissue of a mammoth.

The conclusion is that prehistoric people didn’t eat each other out of a need to survive – but instead did it by choice – possibly for ritual reasons.

Dr Cole said, ‘In modern humans, cannibalism has been related to any combination of the following: survival, psychotic or criminal, aggressive, spiritual or ritual, gastronomic or dietary, and medicinal.

‘We know that modern humans have a range of complex motivations for cannibalism that extend from ritual, aggressive, and survival to dietary reasons.

Why then would a species such as the Neanderthals, who seem to have had varying attitudes to the burial and treatment of their dead, not have an equally complex attitude towards cannibalism?’