Some crazy ritual: “Katim na kukim na kaikai” from the book Genome by Matt Ridley


Cagri Sarigoz

In August 2016, I finished reading Matt Ridley’s Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 ChaptersIt’s a great popular science book with lots of interesting facts about genetics of humans and other livings. I especially liked the stories behind the discoveries of new genes and their relationships with functionality of different parts of our lives: character, IQ,  well-being of mind and body, naming a few.

The book also gives a good idea about the scientific research process. It’s amazing to witness seemingly totally unrelated cases in different species might get their roots from the same gene’s different versions. For example, I was astonished by the scientific research adventure behind the discovery of prion diseases. One of the most interesting prion disease case mentioned in the book is the Kuru disease in Fore tribe of Papua New Guinea. The transmission of the disease between the members of the tribe caused by funerary cannibalism (yuck). This ritual was called in Pidgin as ‘katim na kukim na kaikai’ — or cut up, cook and eat.

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