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ROOTS AND BRANCHES

The New York World’s 1874 “Man-eating tree of Madagascar” was a gruesome horror story told in a plausible-sounding scientific style—and then published in a newspaper. There it was in black and white! It seemed true. It was surprising enough to catch the public’s horrified imagination, yet it also reflected the expectations and racist attitudes common at that time. Readers in America and Europe already expected bizarre discoveries and adventures to emerge from remote regions. Readers also expected people in far-away lands to act like crazed, bloodthirsty “savages.”

The tale was reprinted for years by newspapers and magazines across the U.S. and around the world. But was it true?

Darwin v. The Man-Eating Tree

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