cannibalism(redirected from Canabilism)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical.
See P. Brown and D. Tuzin, ed., The Ethnography of Cannibalism (1983); A. W. B. Simpson, Cannibalism and the Common Law (1984); B. Schutt, Cannibalism (2017).
(1) The practice of eating human flesh, widespread in the past among certain tribes and peoples. There were two basic forms of cannibalism: as a source of food and as a religious and magical ritual. Cannibalism as a source of food, as shown by excavated bones that had been burned and split open for extracting the marrow, probably was practiced in the early Stone Age. Later on, with the development of the primitive communal system, the improvement in production, and the increase in food resources, cannibalism as a source of food survived only as an exceptional phenomenon caused by famines. Numerous tribes and peoples practiced religious and magical cannibalism: they ate various parts of slaughtered enemies, prisoners of war, and deceased kinsmen (endocannibalism). The custom was based on the conviction that the victim’s strength and other properties would be transmitted to the eater. Vestiges of religious and magical cannibalism have survived in certain rites of modern world religions—for example, communion (the eating of bread and wine symbolizing the body and blood of Christ) in Christianity.
A. I. PERSHITS
(2) The eating by animals of members of the same species.Cannibalism is one of the manifestations of intraspecific competition and a factor in natural selection. It is most often observed with unfavorable environmental conditions: an overconcentration of population and a shortage of food or water. Thus, in harsh winters when small mammals have died off, wolves, lynxes, and other large carnivores sometimes eat one another. A lack of food or other bad conditions will cause females to eat their young. Mealworm beetles (Tenebrio) feed on their own eggs when their population density becomes high, thereby preventing an increase in the population. Those species that have a more expressed inclination for cannibalism are more likely to survive than other species under unfavorable conditions. Instances are also known of permanent, or obligate, cannibalism that develops in evolution as a useful adaptation. Thus, female karakurts and praying mantises eat the males after mating.
The male American salamander satisfies its hunger by consuming a portion of the eggs from the clutch it is guarding. The parasitic larvae of certain ichneumon flies (Galesus) attempt to destroy their colarvae since the host can sustain only one specimen of the parasite. Certain predatory fishes (for example, the Balkhash perch) consume their young and thus can subsist in a body of water when there is no other food for them.
REFERENCEMekhanizmy biologicheskoi konkurentsii: Sb. st. Moscow, 1964. (Translated from English.)
I. KH. SHAROVA
What does it mean when you dream about cannibalism?
Cannibalism often represents an insatiable lust to own and possess the life force of the victim(s). Being the victim of cannibalism denotes that the dreamer may feel “eaten alive” by work, a relationship, or a condition in his or her life. Like incest and murder, cannibalism represents the worst form of something forbidden.