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A Tribe that Consumes Human Brains at Funerals

05.01.2023: The phrase “friend don’t eat my brain” or “Why are you eating my brain” is something we frequently say indignantly to our friends, yet this saying is not merely a proverb. In Papua New Guinea, there is a tribe that literally consumes human brain. But after his passing, during the funeral rites. You’ll be astonished to learn why they do this.

In Papua New Guinea, there are about 312 tribes. There is a tribe here with peculiar practices. In this tribe, eating human brains at the time of the funeral was customary. Studies have been conducted on members of the Scientific Fore Tribe in Papua New Guinea and Britain. According to research, these indigenous people have genetic resistance to a condition known as kuru because their diet includes the brains of their deceased relatives. This illness resembles “Mad Cow” disease. New treatments for “prion” disorders like dementia and Parkinson‘s disease might also be discovered with the aid of this research.

Fore Tribe in Papua New Guinea (Photo Credit to Myend)

In the Fore tribe, there were feasts after funerals where the men consumed the flesh of their departed family members and the women consumed their brains. This custom was regarded as a mark of respect for their departed loved ones. According to this tribe, if a body is buried or kept on a platform, insects will consume it. It is preferable for the deceased’s loved ones to consume their body. Women used to remove the brain, season it with fern, and cook it in bamboo. Everything but the gallbladder was fried and consumed. However, this tribe was unaware that the human brain contains a dangerous chemical that, if consumed, results in death.

A dangerous and unexplained ailment was being experienced by some members of the Fore tribe who were living in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, according to the district medical officer of New Guinea. They used to grow exceedingly weak as a result of this. The situation was such that those affected first lost their ability to walk before finding it difficult to swallow or chew food. His weight would have dropped as a result, and he would have eventually passed away. The word “Kuru” for the illness in this tribe’s language means “trembling with fear.” Every year, this sickness claimed the lives of around 2% of this tribe’s members.

Kuru is now recognized as one of the numerous illnesses brought on by the protein known as “Prions.” which is capable of reproducing and spreading infection. Prions typically develop from the bodies of all living things, however they can also become malformed and turn on their hosts. The sickness then spreads as a result of the malformed prion acting like a virus and attacking the body as well as the nearby creatures.

Fore Tribe in Papua New Guinea (Photo Credit to Myend)

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), popularly known as “mad cow disease,” is the most well-known prion condition in existence today. BSE first affected animals in the 1980s. As a result of the BSE outbreak in 1986, hundreds of animals had to be put to death. Pet cats then began passing away in the early 1990s as a result of pet food containing meat from BSE-infected cattle. Following the discovery of 120,000 BSE-infected animals in 1993, the British government outlawed the feeding of meat-and-bone combination to animals. After that, the sickness spread to people as well. This was attempted multiple times, and occurrences of BSE in animals persisted up until 2012, albeit the illness had greatly declined by that point.

The instance of the Four tribesmen in New Guinea also suggests that cannibalism was once prevalent among humans. It has now been shown that there is some sort of genetic protection against malformed prions. Kuru started to go away in New Guinea after the practice of eating human brains there was outlawed during an outbreak in the 1950s. But now, researchers studying the tribe have found that the Fore tribe’s brain-eating practices have led to the evolution of genetic immunity to kuru and other prions-based disorders.

The discovery could aid researchers in developing cures for neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer‘s and Parkinson‘s, according to John Colling of the Prion Unit of the Institute of Neurology at University College London. The journal Nature has published the findings of this study.

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