from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. The eating of earthy substances, such as clay or chalk, practiced among various peoples as a custom or for dietary or subsistence reasons.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. The practice of eating earthy substances such as clay and chalk, often thought to augment a mineral-deficient diet.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. The act or practice of eating earth, as dirt, clay, chalk, etc. See dirt-eating. Also geophagism.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. eating earth, clay, chalk; occurs in some primitive tribes, sometimes in cases of nutritional deficiency or obsessive behavior
Well, you might be surprised that many cultures, from the ancient Greeks to modern-day Saharan tribes participate in geophagy – or eating dirt.
In fact, dirt eating, known as geophagy, is so prevalent in some parts of the world that scientists and anthropologists think that nutritional deficits may bring on the craving.
Far from being a dysfunctional behavior, geophagy has evolved as a practice for maintaining health amongst chimpanzees.
An interesting press release here, on geophagy (soil eating) in chimpanzees.
In this particular study (1), to be published online this week in Springers journal Naturwissenschaften, geophagy increases the potency of ingested plants with anti-malarial properties.
The deliberate ingestion of soil, or geophagy, has important health benefits for chimpanzees, according to Sabrina Krief and her colleagues from the Muséum National dHistoire Naturelle in Paris, France.
Anyway, there was a really good Nova? special on geophagy 5-6 years ago.
Known as geophagy or "earth eating" macaws feed on clays to counteract poisons from the seeds in fruit they eat.
Never mind that geophagy was and probably still is practiced right here in the US of A.
The attention of physiologists, since my return from the Orinoco, having been powerfully directed to these phenomena of geophagy, M. Leschenault (one of the naturalists of the expedition to the Antarctic regions under the command of captain Baudin) has published some curious details on the tanaampo, or ampo, of the