Who doesn’t like eating lobster? Not lobsters, that’s for sure. Lobster cannibalism:

One of my favorite parts about visiting my soon-to-be in laws is the food. Yes, my future mother-in-law is an excellent cook, but the best part is that they live in Maine, and you know what that means: lobsters on the cheap! And really, who can resist a nice lobster dinner? Not many people, and apparently not the lobsters, either.


Cannibal lobsters? Yes, it’s a little weird, a little gross, and completely true. Noah Oppenheim, a graduate student studying at the University of Maine, caught this little gem on film. For those of you who don’t have the stomach to watch your food eating your –  er – food, the video depicts adult lobsters grabbing and scarfing down adolescent lobsters. That’s one way to deal with obnoxious teenage angst!

Although lobsters in captivity have been known to occasionally snap and eat their own kind, scientists in Maine say Oppenheim’s video is the first direct evidence that lobsters practice cannibalism in the wild. It’s not yet determined if this change in appetite is due to warmer water temperatures or a decrease in typical lobster predators, but fear not. Lobsters are not expected to eat themselves into extinction and Maine’s lobster boom will most likely return next summer. And hey, if you’re really lucky, you might even find a smaller lobster inside your lobster – now that’s what I call a 2-for-1 dinner!

By the way, don’t be shy! Check out our other great posts on cannibalism! Get a whole fist full!


Zogby on bath salts: when the narrative drives the poll. Or: #OpinionFail

Bath salts. They’re pretty scary.

But are they quite as scary as some would have you believe? Over the years, the spread of nominally-legal drugs like those labeled “bath salts” or others that simulate the effects of marijuana have crept to near-ubiquitous popularity in head shops all over the country. All while most of us weren’t really watching. Now that the media is watching, sometimes the reports can get a bit ridiculous.

This blog is certainly not above discussing the topic. We’ve talked about fake weed, we’ve explored the common components of bath salts. And we’re not even remotely above having a little bit of fun with face-eating zombies. Still, our objective at this blog is to inform about the science behind the headlines, and I feel certain we’re not sensationalizing anything. Then, there’s this poll from Zogby:

IBOPE | Inteligência Plurality of Adults Say Law Enforcement Not Doing Enough to Combat ‘Bath Salts’ drug Craze

The poll finds 51% of US adults familiar with bath salts, and 47% unfamiliar, a third of which are not at all familiar with the drug (32%). When asked if law enforcement is doing enough to prevent the use of bath salts, 22% they were doing enough, 37% say law enforcement could do more and 41% are not sure.

Ok. Quick math… (carry the one)…

So, 59% of Americans have an opinion on a subject that only 51% of Americans say they’re familiar with? At what point do we simply discard a poll altogether? I would have thought this was it, but instead, Zogby runs with the headline, “Plurality of Adults.” And by plurality, they mean 37% of Americans – a number unlikely to win any election this side of Canada. The reality of this poll is: nearly half the country doesn’t know what the hell Zogby pollsters are talking about and somehow, six percent decided to say, “fuck it,” and render an opinion anyway.

But it drives a sense of urgency. It drives the narrative and more importantly, it drives readership. “A plurality” of your fellow citizens think this is a big deal, so you probably should, too.


Bath salt-eating zombies are bullshit. But bath salts are synthetic fertilizer.

Zombie stories have been all the rage for decades, dating as far back to the 1932 film, White Zombie, to the cult classic, Evil Dead, and the fairly recent soon-to-be classic, Zombieland. It should come as no surprise, then, that when the dubbed “Miami Zombie” story hit headlines, we, the general public, would naturally eat it up – pun intended?

By now, we have most likely heard many recounts of the tale many times – naked man attacks homeless man beneath a Florida causeway, devours the flesh of the homeless man’s face, barely acknowledges being shot at by police until in the end, one man is dead, and one man is alive, but without a face.

Nearly every aspect of this gruesome and unfortunate turn of events has been covered: drug abuse, synthetic legal drugs, homelessness, police brutality, even voodoo.  However, while Epsom salts may have undeservingly received a bad rep thanks to “bath salts” making a rapid advance into the common knowledge/household names realm, there’s one crucial piece to this puzzle that has somehow more or less been forgotten. What exactly are these “bath salts”, and why would they make someone act out the most terrifying of zombie tales in real life?

MDPV (short for methylenedioxypyrovalerone – cheers to acronyms!) and mephedrone are two of the main ingredients used to create bath salts. These two chemical drugs are both cathinones, forms of which are found naturally in the Catha edulis plant. Both chemicals are similar to amphetamines, and illegal in the US.

Contrary to recent popular belief, neither of these chemicals acts as a hallucinogen. Neither is there any evidence that they cause a hunger for human flesh, as is so much a part of the current memeosphere. Mephedrone is a stimulant and MDPV is both a stimulant and psychoactive drug, meaning the drug crosses the blood-brain barrier and causes changes in neurochemical function, resulting in amplifying effects on mood, thought, perception, and behavior. Who would have thought?

According to Doctor Anthony Ocon of New York Medical College,

 “These two drug components making up bath salts are thought to cause euphoria, a rush feeling, and heightened libido – those are the effects people seek them out for. However, they also cause paranoia, psychosis, erratic behavior, insomnia, memory disturbances, and resistance to pain – which could explain why the gentleman in Florida was initially unresponsive to being shot”.

These chemicals are entirely man-made, and have had cameo appearances in laboratories since the 1960s and 1920s respectively. While the  recreational use of them is something of a novel concept, their intended use when they were originally developed is actually quite mundane: MDPV and mephedrone are synthetic fertilizer additives. Clearly, our nation’s corn crop has been having a much better time of it than we might have thought!

Bath salts, improperly named and with the warning “not for human ingestion” on their packaging to bypass the FDA, are currently legal, relatively inexpensive, and conveniently sold at many stores and shops throughout the U.S. Contrast this with marijuana, which is illegal because it is clearly a much larger threat and the answer to what is wrong with our country. Bon appetit.


Pound of flesh: in light of China’s “baby pills,” a history of European medical cannibalism

News just this past week out of South Korea was that they need to start cracking down on pills made of dried infant flesh, said to cure diseases and boost male sexual performance. Who knew this was a thing?

But before we get our harumph on about the crazy shit they do in Asia, lets review quickly the article on European medical cannibalism:

“The question was not, ‘Should you eat human flesh?’ but, ‘What sort of flesh should you eat?’ ” says Sugg. The answer, at first, was Egyptian mummy, which was crumbled into tinctures to staunch internal bleeding. But other parts of the body soon followed. Skull was one common ingredient, taken in powdered form to cure head ailments. Thomas Willis, a 17th-century pioneer of brain science, brewed a drink for apoplexy, or bleeding, that mingled powdered human skull and chocolate. And King Charles II of England sipped “The King’s Drops,” his personal tincture, containing human skull in alcohol. Even the toupee of moss that grew over a buried skull, called Usnea, became a prized additive, its powder believed to cure nosebleeds and possibly epilepsy. Human fat was used to treat the outside of the body. German doctors, for instance, prescribed bandages soaked in it for wounds, and rubbing fat into the skin was considered a remedy for gout.

Lets not forget also that Europe has a tradition of binding books in leather made of human flesh. Uses include many medical tomes, but also as a special fuck-you to one of the conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot immortalized by Guy Fawkes Day. The list of offenses by Father Henry Garnet was bound in a book made of… his face.

So yeah. Claim it as ancient history if you prefer. Just don’t call it unheard of.


Sharks – 420 million years of evolution, 37 years of Hollywood gold

Whether you’re terrified of them, think they’re beautiful, think they’re ugly, or really don’t ever give them a second thought, there’s no denying the fact: sharks are cool. Ever since Jaws appeared as the first regarded summer blockbuster in 1975, the great white shark has spent the past 37 years being type cast – on the silver screen, and off.

Despite their ferocious, bloodthirsty reputation, many will argue that deep down, sharks really aren’t these evil and terrifying creatures we’ve portrayed them to be.  According to Leonard Compagno, the shark expert who helped design the mechanical shark for Jaws:

“It may be hard to fathom, but many great white encounters with humans are investigative, not predatory. I knew the movie was meant to be a ‘monster gig’ but I did not anticipate how seriously people would take it. The movie scared the hell out of people and made the shark much feared. In reality, great whites rarely bother people and even more rarely attack them.”

Okay, well that’s warm, fuzzy, and boring, but come on! Sharks! We have a whole week dedicated to these bad ass, flesh-hungry water dwellers, thanks to Discovery Channel. And, what do we see the most of on Shark Week? Shark attacks. Has Shark Week ever featured an episode on how kind and friendly sharks can really be? Maybe, but if they did, it wasn’t memorable. We want blood, guts, and that feeling of absolute terror when we look at an ocean. Bring it on, Shark Week!

To top it off, I present you with this lovely little image, released just this week by National Geographic: a Wobblegong shark devouring a bamboo shark – whole. Now the picture and the description of what is happening definitely has both the shock and horror factors to it, but the more you think about it, the less bad ass it is (aside from the cannibalistic part, which is just gross).  Both of these sharks are slow and don’t even leave the ocean floor so chances are, the Wobblegong was hungry (as sharks tend to be) and the bamboo shark was there. Convenience!

7-11s are rare on the ocean floor and besides: even these guys won't eat whatever those hot dog things are.

Also, fish eat other fish all the time. It’s one of the main reasons I got rid of my aquarium as a kid. Try explaining postpartum psychosis to an 8-year-old who wants to know why Mommy Fish ate all the baby fish, then killed Daddy Fish and was starting dinner on him. My mother was a smart lady and opted we lose the fish tank.

So why do these two big fish make National Geographic and my emotionally disturbed gold fish did not?  Because sharks are bad ass and cool, and we love them.  Don’t believe me? Shark Week opened with 3.3 million viewers within its first hour in 2011, setting a ratings record for itself, National Geographic is already placing bets on its Wobblegong/Bamboo shark photo becoming a classic, and our very own Ontario Beach Park opens each summer Movies At The Beach season with a showing of Jaws.

Is shark terror an American guilty pleasure? Maybe. I just know I’ll continue making an unnecessarily large celebration out of Shark Week until I physically can’t anymore.


Taste for human flesh? Could be Wendigo Psychosis.

You’re hungry. We get that. We’ve all been there before.

But if you’re hungry for human flesh, well, that presents a problem. It could be that you are a zombie, as is fashionable in our modern times. It could also be that you simply suffer from a condition known as Wendigo Psychosis. While the Donner Party and the Uruguay plane crash that inspired the movie Alive are some of the best-known cases of forced cannibalism (here’s list of ten more, bring your appetite.), life isn’t all about “have to.”

Some people, for example, are just very, very German.

Wendigo Syndrome refers to a social disorder wherein the “victim” (also sometimes referred to as a “Hoomie” on popular cooking channels) feels a compulsion to eat human flesh, even when other sources of food are readily available. Sufferers have even gone as far as to request execution so they do not harm others in their community, after traditional medicine and Western remedies have been exhausted.

"Yep. That's human flesh back there, by golly. Have you tried eating more fish oil? That'll be $500,000.00."

The term Wendigo refers to an Algonquin myth of a terrible creature that ate human flesh. That creature began life as a human and in fact, made the choice somewhere along the line to start eating human flesh. That’s when the slide into the dark side began, the victim transforming from sick human to horrible night creature. Cultural psychologists posit that this myth expresses the taboo humans everywhere have for cannibalism, a condition most psychologist refer to as “fucking gross.”

The most recognized case of Wendigo Psychosis is the case of an Plains Cree fur trapper called Swift Runner who killed and ate his entire family, including his wife and five out of six children. The sixth died first, and as we all know, human flesh is just not good once its had time to get “gamey.”

Also: avoid name-brand humans. They're expensive and just as likely to have spoiled.

But of course, the question remains what the difference is between a Wendigo and a zombie? If only the body lives but the soul has died, is that any different? This isn’t just a philosophical question, as issues such as Social Security and taxation very much depend on the definition of “living.”

The surest solution to test your level of death – whether indeed you have been partially eaten by an undead ghoul and made into a zombie, or if you just got the mad munchies – would be to have a friend or loved one shoot you in the face. Best to do this outside, as the results – positive or negative – will probably ruin that nice furniture your mom just bought.

Happy Halloween, everybody!