Do Some Animals Get a Taste for Human Blood?: Page 2

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Burgess said that he knows of only two instances where individual sharks have repeatedly attacked humans. Both occurred in waters off of Egypt. In each instance, humans were to blame, although indirectly.

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He explained that vessels from Australia and New Zealand were transporting live sheep to Egypt, since sheep are sacrificed there for a religious holiday.

"Sheep that died on the ships were tossed overboard," Burgess said. "Sheep defecate and urinate, so that waste was also being washed overboard. The result was a chum trail that likely went all the way from New Zealand to the Red Sea."

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He explained that vessels from Australia and New Zealand were transporting live sheep to Egypt, since sheep are sacrificed there for a religious holiday.

"Sheep that died on the ships were tossed overboard," Burgess said. "Sheep defecate and urinate, so that waste was also being washed overboard. The result was a chum trail that likely went all the way from New Zealand to the Red Sea."

An oceanic whitetip shark and a mako shark appear to have followed this trail, winding up in more shallow water used for human recreation. Without sheep or other prey to eat, the sharks went after humans.

"So it's highly unusual for an individual shark or other animal to repeatedly prey upon humans, but it can happen," Burgess said.

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Such encounters remind that humans were not always at the top of the food chain.

Kirsten Jenkins, a University of Minnesota anthropologist, explained that an early ape called Proconsul -- thought to have been an ancestor to both modern humans and chimpanzees -- was good eats for numerous predators.

"I have observed multiple tooth pits and probable beak marks on these fossil primates, which are direct evidence for creodonts and raptors consuming these primates," Jenkins told Discovery News.

Earlier this year, remains of an enormous horned crocodile, Crocodylus thorbjarnarsoni, were found next to Australopithecus, a now-extinct human relative. Researchers suspect that the croc regularly dined on humans.

Moving to modern times, Burgess says humans themselves repeatedly target other humans.

"Think of someone like Jeffrey Dahmer, who reportedly ate some of his victims," he said. "Humans are the ultimate serial killers."

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