A Molecular Record of Cannibalism

  • Thread starter Monique
  • Start date
  • Tags
In summary, an article was published in Science discussing a human polymorphism that protects against Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and Kuru, both caused by consuming brains contaminated with prions. This polymorphism is thought to have evolved due to a history of cannibalism in certain populations. The article suggests that prions may also have a role in immunity against other diseases. Links to a short description and abstract are provided for further reading."
  • #1


Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
Gold Member
This is pretty cool, in Science an article was published which describes a human polymorphism which protects us from the disease Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and/or Kuru which are both caused by eating brains contaminated with a certain kind of protein, prions.

A selection for this polymorphism would be achieved by a history of cannibalism in an population. This polymorphism seems to have recorded our canibalistic history.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/vol300/issue5619/twis.shtml#300/5619/545a [Broken] for a short description
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/300/5619/640 for the abstract which will take you to the article if you have access.
Last edited by a moderator:
Biology news on Phys.org
  • #2
they have an interesting theory

What I asking myself is how they came up that the prion may play a role in the immunity against common conventional disease.
  • #3

Thank you for sharing this interesting information about the molecular record of cannibalism. It's amazing to think that our genetic makeup could hold clues about our past behaviors, like cannibalism. The fact that a specific polymorphism can protect against diseases caused by consuming contaminated brains is both fascinating and potentially life-saving.

It's also intriguing to consider the implications of this polymorphism and its relationship to cannibalism in human populations. It suggests that our ancestors may have engaged in cannibalism more frequently than we previously thought, and that this behavior may have played a role in shaping our genetic makeup.

This research highlights the importance of studying human genetics and its connection to our past behaviors and evolution. It also serves as a reminder of the potential consequences of consuming contaminated food, and the importance of food safety measures.

Overall, this is a very interesting and thought-provoking topic, and I look forward to learning more about the molecular record of cannibalism and its implications in the future. Thank you for sharing this article and providing the links for further reading.

1. What is "A Molecular Record of Cannibalism"?

"A Molecular Record of Cannibalism" is a scientific study that uses DNA analysis to investigate instances of cannibalism in the archaeological record.

2. How does DNA analysis help in studying cannibalism?

DNA analysis can provide direct evidence of human consumption through the identification of human DNA in the remains of other humans. This can help determine the prevalence and frequency of cannibalism in different populations and time periods.

3. What are the main findings of this study?

The main findings of this study include evidence of cannibalism in various ancient societies, including the Anasazi, Aztecs, and Neanderthals. It also suggests that cannibalism may have been more common and widespread than previously thought.

4. How can this study contribute to our understanding of human behavior?

By studying cannibalism through a molecular perspective, this study offers a new way to examine and understand human behavior in different cultural contexts. It also sheds light on the complex relationship between violence, warfare, and cannibalism in ancient societies.

5. What are the implications of this study for modern cultures?

This study highlights the importance of considering cultural and environmental factors in understanding the practice of cannibalism. It also emphasizes the need for further research and analysis to fully understand the motivations and implications of cannibalism in both historical and modern contexts.

Suggested for: A Molecular Record of Cannibalism