Research press release


Scientific Reports

Archaeology: Counting the calories of cannibalism


今回、James Coleは、4人の男性の化学組成分析によって得た身体各部の平均重量とカロリー価(脂肪とタンパク質)を総合して人体の栄養テンプレートを構築した。しかし、こうして得られたデータは現代人に関するものであり、ヒト(Homo sapiens)以外のヒト族種においてどの程度異なるのかは明らかでない。Coleは、ネアンデルタール人の骨格筋の筋肉量が多いため、そのカロリー価もテンプレートの値より高かった可能性があり、ヒト以外のヒト族種のカロリー価は、今回の研究で明らかになった値と同等かそれ以上だったと考えるべきだろうという見解を示している。



A tool that suggests episodes of prehistoric human cannibalism may not have been purely ‘nutritional’ in nature is presented in Scientific Reports this week. The template provides a proxy calorie value for the human body that may be used to determine the dietary value of prehistoric cannibalistic episodes when compared to the consumption of other animals.

James Cole constructed a nutritional template for the human body by using the total average weights and calorie values (fat and protein) for each body part from chemical composition analyses of four male individuals. However, the data obtained pertains to modern humans and it is unknown how these values would vary for non-Homo sapiens species. The author suggests that in the case of Neanderthals, the values for skeletal muscle may be higher given their greater muscle mass, and that the values presented in this study may be minimum values for non-Homo sapiens hominin species.

By comparing the calorific values calculated to those for animal species whose remains have been identified at sites of Palaeolithic cannibalism, the author found that human skeletal muscle has a nutritional value broadly in line with species of a similar size and weight. However, it produces significantly fewer calories than most of the larger animals, such as mammoth, woolly rhino and species of deer, which are known to have been consumed by hominins.

The author argues that the findings question the viability of hunting and consuming hominins strictly for nutritional reasons and recommends that the data and methods form part of a holistic approach to defining episodes of prehistoric cannibalism.

doi: 10.1038/srep44707


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