Our ancestors did not eat each other to get food, according to new studies. Human meat contains too few calories to make it worth killing another.
Prehistoric people did not eat each other out of necessity, but as a ritual.
A new study shows that primal people had such a low nutritional value that it would not be worthwhile to eat a fellow human if you could outwit a wild horse or boar.
It is therefore more likely that cannibalism in people between 900,000 and 14,000 years ago was based on religious or social rituals, not hunger and food scarcity. This was previously impossible to rule out as a reason for cannibalism.
Man is not a feast
Dr. James Cole from the University of Brighton investigated cannibalism in early human species, such as the Neanderthal and Homo erectus. He compared the energy content of human meat with that of the meat of other animals.
Because our ancestors were little more than skin, muscles and bones, they were by no means a feast compared to animals.
A kilo of wild horse, bear or wild boar contains three times as many calories in fat and protein as a kilo of human meat.
People are difficult prey
Another disadvantage of a human meal is that a person resists in a very different way than a prey animal.
"It's not just about the meat," Dr. James Cole tells AFP.
According to Cole, it could have been a tribute to a dead person to eat his spleen or suck the marrow from his bones. The nutritional value of such a ritual can be seen as a bonus.