Daily Archives: May 17, 2009

Technically It’s Not Cannibalism If They’re Not the Same Species

And now, the real reason there are no Neanderthals today: They were tasty!

One of science’s most puzzling mysteries – the disappearance of the Neanderthals – may have been solved. Modern humans ate them, says a leading fossil expert.

The controversial suggestion follows publication of a study in the Journal of Anthropological Sciences about a Neanderthal jawbone apparently butchered by modern humans. Now the leader of the research team says he believes the flesh had been eaten by humans, while its teeth may have been used to make a necklace.

Fernando Rozzi, of Paris’s Centre National de la Récherche Scientifique, said the jawbone had probably been cut into to remove flesh, including the tongue. Crucially, the butchery was similar to that used by humans to cut up deer carcass in the early Stone Age. “Neanderthals met a violent end at our hands and in some cases we ate them,” Rozzi said.

I suspect very strongly that they did not taste like chicken.

This incidentally brings up an interesting and currently (for humans) untestable question of where the dividing line for cannibalism is. Neanderthals were in the genus “Homo,” but were another species therein. So is it cannibalism when we eat them? As you might suspect from the entry header, I say no: Not of the same species, not cannibalism.Not that the Homo sapiens of the day were rationalizing it on these particular grounds.

Which isn’t to say it was a nice thing to do. Even if it wasn’t cannibalism, I would still call it murder, since “murder” in my book (that book being a science fiction book) involves killing sentient creatures, whether they’re of the same intelligent species as you are or not. This is why one needs science fiction, incidentally: to model such legal conundrums. You’re welcome.

Because Flowcharts Make Everything Clearer

Apropos of nothing in particular, here is a handy-dandy flowchart to detail just who does — and who does not – get to be a dick around these here parts:

I do hope this clears up any lingering confusion anyone might have on this subject.