Thursday, September 20, 2012


HAVE PRACTICED INFANT CANNIBALISM - The earliest known instance of cannibalism among hominids occurred roughly 800,000 years ago. The victims, mainly children, may have been eaten as part of a strategy to defend territories against neighbors, researchers report online in the Journal of Human Evolution. The new study shows how anthropologists use the behavior of modern humans and primates to make inferences about what hominids did in the past - and demonstrates the limitations of such comparisons. The cannibalism in question was discovered in the Gran Dolina cave site of Spain’s Atapuerca Mountains. Eudald Carbonell of the University of Rovira and Virgili in Spain and colleagues found evidence of butchering on bones belonging to Homo antecessor, a controversial species that lived in Europe as early as 1.2 million years ago. Because no other hominid species has been found in the region at the same time as the butchered bones, the victims must have been eaten by their own kind, the team concluded. Today, human cannibalism occurs in a variety of contexts: for nutritional value (often in times of starvation), as part of funerary rituals or during warfare. 

The different purposes of cannibalism can leave different patterns in the archaeological record. When humans consume other humans for purely dietary reasons, the victims are often treated just like any other prey. This is what the researchers found at Gran Dolina. Eleven individuals were butchered in a manner similar to that of deer and other mammals: Bones had cut marks in areas of muscle attachments and the skulls had signs of defleshing. Thus, H. antecessor appeared to eat its own kind for a nutritional purpose - but probably not because of a food shortage. So why cannibalism? To find an answer, the researchers looked to chimpanzees. That’s because some aspects of H. antecessor cannibalism don’t resemble those of contemporary human cannibalism or cannibalism seen in Neanderthals or early modern humans living 100,000 years ago. For instance, nine of the 11 butchered individuals at Gran Dolina were children or adolescents compared with the largely adult victims of more recent human cannibalism. Young victims is a pattern seen among chimpanzees. When female chimps range alone near the boundary of their territory, males from the neighboring group may kill and eat the females’ infants. Carbonell and his colleagues suggest the best explanation for this behavior is territorial defense and expansion.

Back during the Early Pleistocene era in Europe, there lived a now-extinct subspecies of humans called “Homo Antecessor”, and it dates back to about 800,000 years ago, and they're one of the earliest known hominids to have lived in Europe. Archeological evidence indicates that this species practiced cannibalism - and that they preferred the meat of young children. In ancient times, when cannibalism was prevalent in the world, certain group of people used to eat human flesh. The Mahabharata tells that when Vyasadeva led Queen Kunti and the sons of Pandu to the town of Ekachakra, they came to know that - due to the weakness of the local king - a cannibal Rakshasa named Baka rules the country and he devoured one human being every fortnight. So, Queen Kunti asked Bhima - her second son - to kill that cannibal demon.

Baka, the mighty Rakshasa, inflamed with wrath, uprooted a lot of trees hurling them with all his power at the son of Kunti (Bhima). Soon the forest became treeless and finding no other weapon, Baka ran at Bhima and seized him with his arms. He dragged Bhima on the ground, and Bhima also dragged him on the ground. Soon the Rakshasa became fatigued and Bhima pressed him down to the earth with his knees and beat him with his fists. The cracking of his back and the screaming of his voice filled the whole forest. Baka then vomited blood and gave up his life force. The friends of Baka were frightened, and Bhima commanded them, “Do not kill human beings again, for if you do, you will die as Baka did.  The Rakshasas were terrified at Bhima's power, and from that day on, they were seen by the inhabitants of that town to be very peaceful toward mankind. Then Bhima dragged the lifeless corpse of the demon, placed him on the city gate and went away unseen by anyone. The next morning the citizens of Ekachakra saw the cannibal's mutilated body covered in blood.

“Mahabharata Summation”
Fourteenth Chapter of the Adi Parva,
Entitled: “The Cannibal Baka Slain”

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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