Salmon Fishing By Ancient Humans In North America Verified

Posted: Sep 22 2015, 7:24am CDT | by , Updated: Sep 22 2015, 9:35pm CDT, in Latest Science News


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Salmon Fishing by Ancient Humans in North America Verified
Researchers work on excavation at the Upward Sun River site in Alaska. Photo courtesy of Ben Potter, UAF
  • Evidence emerges that Early Primitive Communities fished for Salmon in North America

New evidence has emerged in Alaska that early primitive communities fished for salmon in what is now North America.

Alaskan scientists have found that primitive cavemen fished for salmon during the Ice Age in North America. The Paleolithic Indians were basically hunter-gatherers. The men hunted for wild game and fish while the women collected berries and other roots and nuts.

Some salmon bones that are more than 10,000 years old have been unearthed by paleontologists. The chum salmon bones were intermixed with signs of human dwelling and tools.

Thus this proves that fishing for salmon was a way of life for early man. This is specifically so in North America where the supply of salmon is so abundant. The salmon used to breed way back in the Ice Age too despite the cold temperatures.

The study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The DNA testing and other methods showed the salmon to be sea-run chum salmon. This particular species of fish had made a journey of 1400 kilometers starting from the open channel of the Yukon River. The modern version of these salmon had predecessors that lived during the last days of the previous Ice Age.

There were instances when the ancient salmon got stuck in pools and thus had a different form than marine salmon. Chum salmon are a whole different fish from the normal run-of-the-mill salmon species.

They served as a fundamental food source for humans inhabiting the region. Remains of the fish were found in the cooking places of ancient man. The bones of the fish that survive are very small and delicate.

They thus pose a serious challenge as far as their re-composition is concerned. All the remains that have been found so far are not representative of the total number of salmon bones that were actually discarded in the region by primitive Paleolithic Indians.

"Salmon fishing has deep roots, and we now know that salmon have been consumed by North American humans at least 11,500 years ago," said lead author Carrin Halffman, a UAF anthropologist who helped analyze the fish bones with co-authors Brian Kemp of Washington State University, Potter and others.

Thus now we know with surety that ancient Alaskans have been fishing salmon for eons. Salmon was a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids and also was a sort of brain food. The North American Indians were big game hunters and probably pursued other large animals that had shaggy coats on their frames thanks to the frigid temperatures of the Ice Age.

"We have cases where salmon become landlocked and have very different isotopic signatures than marine salmon. Combining genetic and isotopic analyses allow us to confirm the identity as chum salmon, which inhabit the area today, as well as establish their life histories," said Potter. "Both are necessary to understand how humans used these resources."

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