British researchers have calculated that humanity would disappear off the face of the planet in nearly three years if all food was removed from Earth and its population resorted to cannibalism. Their study was published in the Journal of Physics Special Topics.
"There are currently 7.6 billion people on Earth. In this paper we present a hypothetical situation in which all food has been removed from the surface of the Earth, and humans have resorted to cannibalism in an attempt to survive. We will calculate how long the human race could survive if it had to resort to cannibalism and eat only human flesh," Holly Graham from Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester and her colleagues wrote.
In recent years, scientists have discovered evidence suggesting that ancient inhabitants of Europe may have eaten human flesh. Last year, paleontologists made an interesting discovery in a Belgium cave. The Neanderthal bone fragments they found had markings from hammering and cut marks from carving the flesh away from the bone.
This speculation is much disputed as many researchers belied that such markings could have been the result of a burial ceremony.
Biologists, at the same time, point out that in terms of nutrition value, cannibalism would not be advantageous because humans are not as packed with calories as a mammoth or any other large animal. Hence, cannibals would be gradually go extinct, losing out to regular carnivores.
"In this model we have not taken into account the logistics of the situation and have assumed that the edible body parts have been shared equally amongst everyone left on Earth, and that people will be grouped together in one place when the population is low in numbers," the authors of the study explained.
According to the study, it would take 1,148.9 days (3.1 years) for there to be one person remaining with no food left. In this hypothetical situation, the majority of the population would disappear in the first 200 days, after which the global population would be the same as that in the middle of the 18th century or in the beginning of the 19th century.
"We have also assumed that all of the food is being shared equally. If instead, a small number of people gathered and stored all of the others, they could potentially last decades," the paper said.