Cultural Anthropology

What are some examples of survival cannibalism?
Answered by Discovery Channel
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  1. Recent modern history offers several examples of survival cannibalism:

    • A group that included members of the Uruguayan rugby team crashed their plane in the Andes Mountains in 1972. Surviving members ate the flesh of people who died in the crash over the 70 days they were stranded. "Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors," was a best-selling non-fiction book published in 1974 by Piers Paul Read; in 2006, survivor Nando Parrado published his own account, "Miracle in the Andes: 72 Days on the Mountain and My Long Trek Home " [sources: Read, Shelden].
    • In 1850, four men sailing to Australia from England were stranded adrift in a lifeboat after their yacht sank. When one man became seriously ill, the other three killed and ate him after their supplies ran out.
    • The Donner Party, traveling from the Iowa territory to California in 1846, was trapped in the mountains by severe winter weather and forced into cannibalism to survive. Recent scholarship, however, has cast some doubt on this account [University of Oregon].

    The winter of 1846 to 1847 was one of the worst on record. Sixteen weeks after the Donner Party reached the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the first person in the group died of starvation. On that day, 15 people left to try to make it to Sutter's Fort, 100 miles away. As a mark of their despondency, this group was called the "Forlorn Hope." The Forlorn Hope had brought little in the way of provisions with them and after nine days on the trail they began to talk about cannibalism. According to survivors, that night a member of the group died, and his flesh was cooked and eaten. Only seven people from the Forlorn Hope party reached Sutter's Fort.

    Yet 21st century studies of forensic material from the Donner Party campsite question whether the stranded travelers ever actually resorted to cannibalism [source: Viegas]. Instead, they appear to have eaten their cattle and horses, deer and even the family dog, Uno.

    Cannibalism 2
    The 16 rescued survivors of the Andean plane crash. The people shown resorted to cannibalism to stay alive for 70 days. (AFP/Getty Images)

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