Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ancient Reindeer Hunters Fished Ice Age Lakes

Archaeologists unearthed six fishhooks that date to 12,300 years ago, with one made from a 19,000-year-old mammoth tusk.  CREDIT: B. Gramsch 

Scientists have unearthed six fishhooks, the oldest of which was made from a 19,000-year-old mammoth tusk.  

Hunters of ice age reindeer around 12,300 years ago likely left the fishhooks, along with mammal and fish bones, in an open field in what is now Wustermark, Germany. The fishhooks, which are the oldest found in Europe, suggests humans developed fishing tools earlier than previously thought, probably to catch fast-moving fish that appeared in lakes as the climate warmed.

"These people had strong ideas to use the new resources of this changing environment," said Robert Sommer, a paleoecologist at the University of Kiel in Germany. The eel, perch and pike that entered lakes are too fast to snag with a harpoon or a spear, Sommer added.

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