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Dr Cole, an expert in Human Origins was interviewed over two days by a host of media including The New York Times, Washington Post, National Geographic, Discover Magazine, Agence Française, PBS and The Guardian when his research was published in Scientific Reports last year.
Dr Cole assessed the calorie value of the human body: A 65kg or 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 results question the idea that our ancestors hunted and consumed members of their own species for strictly nutritional reasons given the much greater calorie return from the faunal species we know were commonly exploited in the past. This raises the suggestion that at least some acts of cannibalism amongst our human ancestors (and our own species) may have been socially motivated rather than nutritionally motivated.
He said: “It is possible that some of our ancestors may have eaten members of their own species out of necessity – but it is more likely perhaps to think of the cannibalism act within a social framework rather than a nutritional one.