Encyclopedia Article


An animal or human who consumes the flesh of a member of the same species. In animals, cannibalism occurs regularly in a number of species for population control or to maximize genetic offspring. The term "cannibal" is the anglicized version of a word used by the Spanish for a West Indies tribe, the Carib. European colonizers reported that this tribe practiced cannibalism by eating their war enemies. However, the Carib may not have engaged in cannibalism, and Europeans likely fabricated the accusation to defend their own actions. Evidence does exist, however, that human cannibalism has been practiced at different times in history at various locations for various purposes.

Term Type: