Look, everyone already knew that eating other humans was not cool. Like, it’s just something we all know not to do. But maybe you get curious sometimes. Maybe you watch Mike Tyson biting that one dude’s ear off and intrigue fills your pores, sweat starts pouring from your glands, and, hey, maybe a little bite won’t hurt. Well guess what? If you did that, not only would you be super not cool, you’d also be not nutritious.
That’s according to Dr. James Cole, an archaeology lecturer at the University of Brighton, U.K., who won the Improbable Research Ig Nobel Prize for his research on the nutritional value of eating human meat. The Ig Nobel prize is given to otherwise eclectic research that “first make people LAUGH then make them THINK.”
Cole’s now award-winning paper demonstrates that human cadavers have significantly lower caloric value when compared to what our Paleolithic ancestor consumed to survive. His deadly serious conclusion was that cannibalism most likely evolved for cultural and societal reasons, not because human meat was the best nutritional option around.
“When you compare us to other animals, we’re not very nutritional at all,” Cole told National Geographic.
This, you may not know, was not a universally held opinion in the scientific community.
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Previous researchers had asserted that cannibalism was probably nutritional in nature. For example, in a 2010 paper published in Current Anthropology, a team led by Spanish archaeologist Eudald Carbonell, Ph.D., argued that the number of cases of cannibalism in the archaeological record suggested that humans were hunting other humans were food. A paper published in 2016 in the Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory also echoed this point, but it admitted that researchers were divided on the idea.
Glad we now have that settled! Don’t eat humans. Noted. We’re definitely not worth the calories and (probably) not at all tasty.