The Case for Cannibalism

A once taboo topic now appears perfectly natural in the animal kingdom. And it’s changing what we know about evolution.

I was knee-deep in a temporary pond that seemed to be composed of equal parts rainwater and cow dung when the cannibals began nibbling on my leg hair. “If you stand still for long enough, they’ll definitely nip you,” came a voice from the shore. “They” were cannibalistic spadefoot toad larvae, commonly known as tadpoles. The warning had come from David Pfennig, a biology professor at the University of North Carolina who had been studying these toads in Arizona&rsqu...

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