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"A masterful and compulsively readable book that challenges our preconceived notions about a behavior often sensationalized in our culture and, until just recently, misunderstood in the scientific world." - Ian Tattersall, Curator Emeritus, American Museum of Natural History, and author of The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack

For centuries scientists have written off cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. Its presence in nature was dismissed as a desperate response to starvation or other life-threatening circumstances, and few spent time studying it. A taboo subject in our culture, the behavior was portrayed mostly through horror movies or tabloids sensationalizing the crimes of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism--the role it plays in evolution as well as human history--is even more intriguing (and more normal) than the misconceptions we've come to accept as fact.

In Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History,zoologist Bill Schutt sets the record straight, debunking common myths and investigating our new understanding of cannibalism's role in biology, anthropology, and history in the most fascinating account yet written on this complex topic. Schutt takes readers from Arizona's Chiricahua Mountains, where he wades through ponds full of tadpoles devouring their siblings, to the Sierra Nevadas, where he joins researchers who are shedding new light on what happened to the Donner Party--the most infamous episode of cannibalism in American history. He even meets with an expert on the preparation and consumption of human placenta (and, yes, it goes well with Chianti) .

Bringing together the latest cutting-edge science, Schutt answers questions such as why some amphibians consume their mother's skin; why certain insects bite the heads off their partners after sex; why, up until the end of the twentieth century, Europeans regularly ate human body parts as medical curatives; and how cannibalism might be linked to the extinction of the Neanderthals. He takes us into the future as well, investigating whether, as climate change causes famine, disease, and overcrowding, we may see more outbreaks of cannibalism in many more species--including our own.

Cannibalism places a perfectly natural occurrence into a vital new context and invites us to explore why it both enthralls and repels us.

About the Author

Bill Schutt

Bill Schutt (@draculae and billschutt.com) is a vertebrate zoologist, college professor and author. His first book, "Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures" garnered rave reviews from the likes of E.O. Wilson and the New York Times. The Library Journal and Amazon.com both named Dark Banquet one of the "Best books of 2008". Additionally, Barnes and Noble selected Dark Banquet for its 2008 "Discover Great New Writers" program.

Bill's first novel, "Hell's Gate", co-authored with J.R. Finch, was published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in 2016 (The paperback is available everywhere books are sold) . Hell's Gate is the first in a historical-science thriller series featuring R.J. MacCready, the Indiana Jones of zoology. Hell's Gate received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus Reviews and counts James Cameron, Alice Cooper, Clive Cussler, and James Rollins as fans.

Book two in the R.J. MacCready novels "The Himalayan Codex" (the 2nd "R.J. MacReady Thriller") , hit bookshelves in June 2017 with a starred review in Publisher's Weekly.

Bill's latest non-fiction book is "Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History" (Algonquin) examines the phenomenon of cannibalism in nature and among humans. With great reviews pouring in (including The New York Times and a starred review from Publisher's Weekly) , "Cannibalism" is also available in the UK as "Eat Me: A Natural and Unnatural History of Cannibalism" (Profile Books) . Like Dark Banquet, both versions are illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne, renowned artist and Schutt's long-time friend and AMNH colleague.

Bill Schutt was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island. After graduating from Lindenhurst High School, he attended Southampton College before graduating from C.W. Post with a BA in Biology. Schutt then attended SUNY Geneseo where he earned a Master's Degree in Biology.

Schutt enrolled at Cornell University under the mentorship of John W. Hermanson where he began studying various aspects of anatomy, evolution, and behavior in bats. Initially, Schutt investigated the passive digital lock, a ratchet-like mechanism that allows some bats to hang for extended periods of time without muscle fatigue. Gradually, Bill became more involved in the study of vampire bats - their anatomy, evolution, behavior, and especially, their ability to move efficiently on the ground. Schutt maintained a colony of vampire bats at Cornell for three years. Schutt and his coworkers used the force platform and a hi-speed camera to study the forces generated during flight-initiating jumps by the common vampire bat. After graduating with a Ph.D. from Cornell in 1995, Bill taught for three years at Bloomfield College in New Jersey while simultaneously working on a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowshi

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