10 Cannibal Animals: Animals That Eat Their Own Species

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10 Cannibal Animals: Animals That Eat Their Own Species


The animal kingdom is a dangerous place; it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, literally. For these animals, not only do they have to worry about the usual giant predators, but also their own kind. Here are some animals that oftentimes eat their own species.


Fishing Spiders / Photo by: Ryan Hodnett via Wikimedia Commons


1. Fishing Spiders

What would you give up for your kids? After mating, the male dark fishing spider offers itself as food for its spiderling, wherein the female fishing spider snacks on the male to feed the unborn. Either way, if the male spider were to run away, its female is almost 90% larger than the male. According to a study published in Current Biology, as presented in Science Focus, a website for the latest scientist news formerly known as BBC Focus, females that are their mate had spiderlings that were 20% larger and survived 50% longer than those who did not partake in “post-copulation cannibalism”.


Freshwater Shrimp / Photo by: Allison Dunn via Science Focus


2. Freshwater Shrimp

The Gammarus duebeni shrimp often indulge in eating their young. But when infected with Pleistophora mulleri parasite, a parasite as large as a human red blood cell, the shrimp become deathly hungry, but unable to catch traditional prey. In this case, shrimp would instead eat newborns, who, by proximity, are closer and easier to catch.


Sand Tiger Sharks / Photo by: Maniacduhockey via Wikimedia Commons


3. Sand Tiger Sharks

These are known as one of the most deadly animals, and for good reason, as even before birth, these sharks experience killing. Supposedly helping produce stronger offspring, and boosting its size for survival, sand tiger shark (carcharias taurus) embryos feast on siblings before they are born. It eats younger siblings or unfertilized eggs inside its mother once it reaches a certain size.


Poison dyeing frog tadpoles / Photo by: Bibiana Rojas via Science Focus


4. Dyeing poison frogs

Dyeing poison frogs, dendrobates tinctorius, leave their newborns in pools among older and hungrier members of its own species. This is done supposedly to signify that the pool itself is conducive to life, wherein older members have already grown from toddler levels.


Great Apes / Photo by: Science Focus


5. Great Apes

Warring apes are among the most violent animals, resulting in cannibalism. British primatologist, Jane Goodall, first recorded chimps eating other chimps in 1977. Since then, numerous accounts of cannibalism among apes have been reported due to survival and uprising.


Orthacanthus shark fossil / Photo by: Aodhán Ó Gogáin via Science Focus


6. Orthacanthus sharks

Some 300 million years ago, studies found evidence of juvenile teeth and fossilized poop inside the carnivorous shark. This indicated the practice of filial cannibalism among the sharks. It was said that waterways were protected nurseries for baby sharks, but were also sources of food when resources were scarce.


Hippopotamus / Photo by: Winfried Wisniewski and Getty Images via Science Focus


7. Hippopotamus

Weighing 1,500 kilograms, the hippopotamus has killed even more people than the great white shark and lion combined. A recent paper from the African Journal of Ecology shared a surprising moment where a hippo, usually an herbivore, was feasting on the carcass of its own kind. Given the size of the animal, it’s likely that a hippo can become deadly.


Tyrannosaurus Rex / Photo by: N_Steffens via Pixabay


8. Tyrannosaurus Rex

With a reputation as one of the biggest and most violent dinosaurs, it’s no surprise the T-rex is included in the list. A study of a 66-million-year-old tyrannosaurus bone discovered in Wyoming found a cut from a tooth suggesting it was ripped out in a way that we would eat chicken. Only a theropod would be able to do this.


Tiger Salamander / Photo by: Getty Images via Science Focus


9. Tiger Salamanders

Tiger salamander larvae grow to fill empty spaces in its habitat. They can grow to have flatter heads and teeth 3 times as big. In an overcrowded place, salamanders that grow larger are also built capable of eating larvae that seem appealing.


The Neanderthal Man / Photo by: Paul Hudson via Flickr


10. Neanderthals

Throughout history, earlier reports from humans, considered mammals in the animal world, have been found to practice cannibalism in times of famine. From cultural practices involving murder, and dating back further to Neanderthal cannibalism. In an excavation at the Troisieme caverne in Goyet, Belgium, bone remains of a child were found inside the remains of 4 adults, alongside bones of reindeer and horses in a banquet that is estimated to have taken place 40,000 years ago.



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