Among other factors is overfishing, which has decimated the populations of the lobster’s natural predators.
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Cannibalism is a gruesome illustration of Darwinism at the apex of desperate times. While one might immediately think of the fictitious Doctor Hannibal Lector – a serial killer of considerable means, who dined in elegance on the entrails of his victims – and cast off cannibalism as a virtue of the insane, consider the events that unfolded in the colony of Jamestown, Virginia, during the winter of 1609-1610. Low on supplies and caught in a feud with Powhatan Indians that left the early colonists cut-off from outside assistance, the colonists ate their domesticated animals – dogs, cats, horses – then mice, snakes, and rats. Finally, after running out of everything edible, the colonists first dug up and ate the dead – then turned on each other.
In the animal world, competition for food can foment cannibalistic behavior. For marine biologists in the United States, an unusual combination of climate change and overfishing caused them to bear witness to the transformation of lobsters into cannibals. Using a camera trap with a live lobster as bait off the coast of Maine, scientist Noah Oppenheim became the first scientist to observe the cannibalistic behavior.