On December 21, 1972, sixteen young survivors of Uruguayan Air
Force Flight 571 were rescued after spending ten weeks stranded at
the crash site of their plane, high in the remote Andes Mountains.
The incident made international headlines and spawned several
best-selling books, fueled partly by the fact that the young men
had resorted to cannibalism to survive.
Matt Rossano examines this story from an evolutionary
perspective, weaving together findings and ideas from anthropology,
psychology, religion, and cognitive science. During their ordeal,
these young men broke "civilized" taboos to fend off starvation and
abandoned "civilized" modes of thinking to maintain social unity
and individual sanity. Through the power of ritual, the survivors
were able to endure severe emotional and physical hardship. Rossano
ties their story to our story, seeing in the mortal rituals of this
struggle for survival a reflection of what it means to be
Subjects: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Psychology, History
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