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‘Cannibalism’ chronicles grisly science of eating your own

Zoologist ranges far and wide to explore topic with high ‘ick factor’

8:00am, February 5, 2017
black widow spider

DINING HABITS  In a new book about cannibalism, a zoologist argues that female black widow spiders (Latrodectus mactans shown) don’t deserve their bad rap. They don’t eat their mates as frequently as once thought.

Bill Schutt
Algonquin Books, $26.95

Until recently, researchers thought cannibalism took place only among a few species in the animal kingdom and only under extraordinary circumstances. But as zoologist Bill Schutt chronicles in Cannibalism, plenty of creatures inhabit their own version of a dog-eat-dog world.

Over the last few decades, scientists have observed cannibalism — defined by Schutt as eating all or part of another individual of the same species — among all major groups of vertebrates. The practice seems to be even more prevalent, and less discriminating, among invertebrates such as mollusks, insects and spiders, whose eggs, larvae and young are often produced in profusion and are therefore readily available, not to mention

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