Apparently, it's truly impossible to kill zombies. Popular culture has tried via hugely successful books, movies and television shows, but recent macabre news items have surfaced to remind us that flesh-eating ghouls still walk among us.

Certainly cannibalism exists. But just how much do legends of zombies play into that?

To quell the fears of a nervous public, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention assured the populace that there is no such thing as zombies. Nevertheless, "Zombie Apocalypse" has been trending high in Google search, after a week of horrific news that's been creeping out the living.

  • A porn actor who reportedly killed a man in Canada, dismembered his body and ate flesh from his corpse, fled Canada and was eventually caught in Germany.

Maryland's cannibal case:

To be accurate, nobody is seriously claiming that these and similar incidents are being caused by individuals who are "undead" like the fictitious slow-moving, flesh-hungry creatures who wandered the rural countryside in "Night of the Living Dead" and the urban streets of "Resident Evil."

"This harkens back, I think, on some level of consciousness, to Homo sapiens and Neanderthals in those beginning days when we ate each other. Evidence has been found that cannibalism is in our bones," author Brad Steiger told The Huffington Post.

With 172 titles to his name, Steiger is one of the most prolific writers of books on topics ranging from unexplained phenomena, native American studies, conspiracy theories, secret societies, UFOs, spirituality and crime.

Steiger insists the spate of headline-grabbing flesh-eaters has nothing to do with zombies, real or imagined.

"It's cannibalism, let's face it. I don't think there's any evidence in any of these cases where the individual said, 'I'm a zombie.' None of them said it, they just did it."

Flesh-Eaters In The News:

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  • Charles Baker

    While on drugs, <a href="" target="_hplink">Charles Baker, 26, of Palmetto, Florida,</a> allegedly got naked, barged into his girlfriend's house, bit a chunk out of a man's arm and ate it, then powered through several cop-deployed Taser probes before getting tackled and arrested.

  • Lowpel Davis

    After trying to steal a wig from the Sassy Beauty Supply Shop in New Haven, Conn., <a href="" target="_hplink">Lowpel Davis bit the store owner's arm</a> so hard she took off a piece of his flesh, which she then spat in the man's face, according to cops.

  • Carl Jacquneaux

    Carl Jacquneaux (left) allegedly bit off a chunk of his victim's face while on the synthetic drug known on the street as "bath salts."

  • Rudy Eugene

    This undated booking photo, made available by the Miami-Dade Police Department, shows Rudy Eugene, 31, who was shot and killed by Miami-Dade police after he <a href="" target="_hplink">refused to stop eating another man's face in Miami</a> on May 26, 2012. (AP Photo/Miami-Dade Police Dept.)

  • Luka Rocco Magnotta

    This undated photo, provided by the City of Montreal Police Service's media relations, shows Luka Rocco Magnotta, 29, who is <a href="" target="_hplink">suspected of homicide</a>. Montreal police said on May 30, 2012, that they had identified Magnotta as a suspect in a gruesome crime involving severed body parts discovered in packages mailed to Ottawa, Ontario, and in a garbage heap in Montreal.

  • Alexander Kinyua

    Alexander Kinyua, a 21-year-old Morgan State University student, allegedly <a href="" target="_hplink">admitted to killing his roommate</a>, Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, and then eating his heart and portions of his brain. Kinyua has been charged with first-degree murder.

  • Mao Sugiyama

    It's not necessarily a crime to eat human flesh. Mao Sugiyama, a self-described "asexual" from Tokyo, had surgery to remove his genitals and then <a href="" target="_hplink">cooked and served them</a> to five lucky dinner guests at a swanky banquet in Japan.

  • Man Accused Of Eating Wife's Lips

    A former employee of a Swedish medical university is accused of <a href="" target="_hplink">cutting off his wife's lips and eating them</a>. The unnamed man allegedly flew into a rage after he became suspicious that his much younger wife was having an affair. A source said the man ate the lips because "he didn't want the lips to be able to be sewn back on."

  • Jaime Vigil

    Vigil is accused of murdering an unidentified person and <a href="" target="_hplink">eating part of their face.</a> He was arrested in November, 2012 and charged with an open count of murder.

Steiger's research shows how cannibalism is steeped in many traditions, including the mythology of Algonquian native Americans, who tell stories of a legendary creature referred to as a wendigo.

"The wendigo began when a great warrior became so impassioned in battle that he ripped off a piece of the flesh of his enemy and began to eat it. That was abhorrent, of course, to the other tribe members," said Steiger, author of "Real Zombies, The Living Dead and Creatures of the Apocalypse" (Visible Ink Press).

The voodoo culture and religion of Haiti is most often cited as the origin of the modern zombie legend. Haitian folklore even has its own four-part recipe for making a zombie: one part being drugged into a death-like state; one part being buried; one part being removed from the grave; and, finally, being revived and put into slavery on a Haitian plantation.

Watch the story of Clairvius Narcisse, who claimed he became a zombie:

The recent cannibalistic cases have struck a viral nerve on the Internet. "Zombie Apocalypse" is the buzz phrase du jour, at the 14 spot on the current Top 20 Google Hot Trends (as of this writing). Taken together with the ongoing popularity of doomsday predictions based on the Mayan calendar, which ends sometime in December, either way you look at it, it's the end of the world, right?

"People have seized upon that because of this madness for the apocalypse," said Steiger. "People want it to happen. They say, 'It's so damned bad here now, I want the gods to come, I want the aliens to come and just wipe it out and start over again.'

"I don't see an apocalypse or the end of the world," Steiger added. "I see that we're coming to a cycle of change with the zombie as a metaphor of the raising of the dead. We say it's a dog-eat-dog world out there. It's so ingrained in our unconscious."

Hopefully, it won't become a human-eat-human world out there.