Cannibalism (from Spanish caníbal, in connection with cannibalism among the Antillean Caribs) is the act or practice of humans eating other humans. The eating of human flesh is also known as anthropophagy, from Greek: ἄνθρωπος, anthropos, "human being"; and φαγειν, phagein, "to eat". While taken as a synonym for human cannibalism, this term also applies when a non-human life-form consumes human flesh. In zoology, the term "cannibalism" is extended to refer to any species consuming members of its own kind (see cannibalism (zoology). (The term is further extended outside of biological fields and used in a metaphorical sense, such as in aircraft maintenance when parts are "cannibalized" from an already broken plane in order to fix another plane.)
Neanderthals are believed to have practiced cannibalism. Among modern humans it has been practiced by various groups; in the past in Europe, Africa, South America, China, India, New Zealand, North America, Australia, Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, New Guinea, Sumatra, and Fiji, usually in rituals connected to tribal warfare. Fiji was once known as the 'Cannibal Isles'. Evidence of cannibalism has been found in the Chaco Canyon ruins of the Anasazi culture.
The reasons for cannibalism may be as follows:
- As sanctioned by a cultural norm
- By necessity in extreme situations of famine
- Caused by insanity or social deviancy.
There is a few types of cannibalism that is recognised which are,
- Auto-Cannibalism: The act of eating parts of your own body
- Exo-Cannibalism: The act of eating strangers
- Endo-Cannibalism: The act of eating someone that you know
- Homicidal Cannibalism: The act of murdering others for consumption
- Necro-Cannibalism: The act of eating a person who is already dead
Cannibalism is incredibly dangerous to the cannibal because the victim could be infected by a zombie or the cannibal can get a dangerous disease called Kuru which is caused by eating a infected human brain which results in death and another disease caused by is cannibalism is a variation of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
A tribe in Papua New Guinea has a natural resistance to Kuru due to their genetics and some people may have a resistance to Kuru due to cavemen ancestry because of cavemen committing cannibalism for ritual purposes.