TECH

How Many Calories Are In A Human? Prehistoric Cannibals Were Being Short-Changed

Have a burger instead.

07/04/2017 13:27 BST | Updated 10/04/2017 08:21 BST

Ever taken a long hard look at your ‘favourite’ person in the office and wondered just how worth your time it would be to torture them and then eat the remains with a nice glass of Merlot?

Yeah us neither.

Yet thousands of years ago we were not so nearly as picky as we are now. Our ancestors would happily chow down on a person’s leg as a lunchtime snack.

Well we’ve got some bad news for our prehistoric ancestors, they were wasting their time.

koratmember via Getty Images

So how do we know prehistoric humans were cannibals? Found human remains have shown signs of de-fleshing, deliberate cut marks around the joints, human chewing and the cracking of bones to get at marrow.

Anthropologists have previously proposed (and here) that this was because of the nutritional benefits.

But now James Cole, a researcher from Brighton University has become the first person in the world (that he is aware of) to scientifically work out how many calories, including fat and bones, humans have got to offer potential diners.

And the results were surprising.

Humans roll in at around a grand total of 125, 822 calories in a whole body.

And although humans have the same nutritional value as other equally-sized creatures, compared to bigger prey – like readily available mammoths and woolly rhinoceros – they offer significantly less. 

Nature

As shown in Cole’s tables of findings above, printed in Scientific Reports, humans just aren’t packing the same calorific punch as wild animals.

This leads to questions about why then cavemen in the Paleolithic Era - a 2.6 million-year-long period that ended 10,000 years ago – adopted a cannibalistic lifestyle.

And is forcing anthropologists to look at other theories such as cultural, social and religious practices. Also the intimidation of enemies and weeding out the weak and elderly, according to Cole.