Prehistoric man had mad fishing skills

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iol scitehc nov 29 fish hook AFP This was good news for the country's marine ecosystems and for many people who depended on the fish stocks.

Sydney - Australian archaeologists have uncovered evidence that prehistoric humans living 42,000 years ago mastered the art of deep-sea fishing, they revealed.

They also found the world's earliest recorded fish hook, made of shell and dating from between 23,000 and 16,000 years ago, during excavations at the Jerimalai cave site in East Timor.

The findings, published in the latest issue of the journal Science, stem from work done by Professor Sue O'Connor from the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University.

She said it demonstrated prehistoric man had high-level maritime skills, and by implication the technology needed to make the ocean crossings to reach Australia.

“The site that we studied featured more than 38,000 fish bones from 2,843 individual fish dating back 42,000 years,” O'Connor said, with many of the fish deep-sea species.

“What the site in East Timor has shown us is that early modern humans in island Southeast Asia had amazingly advanced maritime skills.

“They were expert at catching the types of fish that would be challenging even today - fish like tuna. It's a very exciting find.”

A fish hook was also found at the site, but O'Connor said was not likely to have been used for deep-sea fishing.

“This is, we believe, the earliest known example of a fish hook and shows that our ancestors were skilled crafts people as well as fishers,” she said.

“The hooks don't seem suitable for pelagic fishing, but it is possible that other types of hooks were being made at the same time.”

What is still unknown is exactly how these ancient people were able to catch fast-moving deep-ocean fish. Tuna can be caught using nets or by trolling hooks on long lines through the water, said O'Connor.

“Simple fish aggregating devices such as tethered logs can also be used to attract them. So they may have been caught using hooks or nets,” she said.

“Either way it seems certain that these people were using quite sophisticated technology and watercraft to fish offshore.”

She added that the finds may shed light on how Australia's first inhabitants arrived on the continent, with the implication that seaworthy boats would have been used to fish in the deep ocean.

“We have known for a long time that Australia's ancient ancestors must have been able to travel hundreds of kilometres by sea because they reached Australia by at least 50,000 years ago,” said O'Connor.

“When we look at the watercraft that indigenous Australians used at the time of European contact, however, they are all very simple, like rafts and canoes.

“So how people got here at such an early date has always been puzzling. These new finds from Jerimalai cave go a long way to solving the puzzle.” - AFP


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Meme-Man, wrote

IOL Comments
01:21pm on 30 November 2011
IOL Comments

Shane; you've got really agree - the noah story is idiotic to be taken literally. To start with - where did the water come from, and where did it go? That is not a small problem for you to solve. Then - all the mammal, birds, reptiles and insects of earth onto a single craft - in pairs... without them eating one another (what did they eat?!), collected from all over the earth and discreetly re-deposited back around the earth (tigers to India, llamas to South America, marsupials to Oz... and never ever a single fossil from one of their forebears who you presume trooped directly and without deviation to the location where they are found to day; and where all scientists agree they evolved); and, if you don't take the noah story literally, it makes no sense at all. Trouble with your ice-age theory is the last one was 10,000 years ago, and noah...? 6,000 or something; trouble with your theory on fossils is that all are rare and DNA and molecular evidence more than fills in any 'gaps' - there is simply no universal population bottleneck 6,000 years ago - there is one 65-million years ago though. There hasn't been a land bridge to Oz in the last 100,000 years. Your example of Tasmanian indigenous people is lost on me - please read Jaryd Diamond's "Guns Germs and Steel" for clarity. I"m not qualified to comment on pyramids - presumably experts in those areas have a reasonable idea that doesn't involve magic. The Aborigines to Oz 60,000 years ago is a big issue to explain - yes. But when faced with a difficult question to answer, the best solution is not to leap to magic and supernatural; had the brighter members among our ancestors simply kowtowed to ignorance, we'd hardly be able to have this conversation using modern technologies that are built on the foundations of pure science and theory. Please look up "Occam's razor" - it will helps to clarify thinking. You claim 'greater' intelligence or knowledge in former ages - There is very much wrong with our society and politics, economies and attitudes toward ecology, etc; but it would be ludicrous to suggest that any former age even began to approach our level of sophistication in every single human endeavour; from medicine, transport, agriculture, communications to our understanding of the cosmos. Smoking some leaves and having an out-of-the-skull hallucination that in a later age is revealed to have some elements of veracity is not the same thing as actually having an epiphany that can be articulated in a scientifically meaningful way with evidence and repeatability of the claim. The MaoriPolynesian arrival in New Zealand 700 or so years ago is well understood - I agree with you; the question, as I said earlier, is how multiple breeding pairs of aborigines got to Australia perhaps 60,000 years ago.

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Shane, wrote

IOL Comments
07:15pm on 29 November 2011
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Hey Meme-Man. Clearly you don't know that Noah did not have to take any mosquitoes on the Ark. Only animals that were restricted to land or were birds and that had the breath of life in their nostrils. Since birds can fly, this would give a rather plausible reason why so few bird fossils are found. Dead birds would bloat, float and become fish food with even the skeletons being foraged on the ocean bed. Ever been on a dive trip, how many fish skeletons you see lying around?Heard of the Ice Age? Would that not allow for land bridges to Oz for animals? Anyhow, if there is not a sufficient aggregation of collective human wisdom, things deteriorate. Example would be the indigenous people found on Tasmania, covered in animal fat and no garments though scientists know from archaeology that these people had the ability to produce stitched garments in time long gone. What about the pyramids? Do you suppose we could (without powertools) do what those guys did with handtools so long ago. It's a loss of knowledge. Aborigines bobbing around on rafts and crude canoes corroborate that. I tell you Meme-man, mankind is not getting more intelligent, we are just amassing more and more knowledge. Intelligence is not cumulative, but knowledge is. Genetic entropy would have us with lower IQ's now than a couple thousand years ago, but little accumulated knowledge that long ago. Have you perhaps read The Contiki Expedition. Those guys pretty convincingly proved that reasonably "primitive" people could traverse huge ocean stretches safely. Why not do a bit of research and discover how the Maoris say that they arrived in New Zealand? If you cannot find the material let me know, I would be glad to give you the link. I am afraid that you will find indigenous marsupials in the Americas so that fudges you comment about Noah. Have a great evening.

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Meme-Man, wrote

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12:13pm on 29 November 2011
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Hmmm - I reckon our creationist friends might be able to throw some light on these fish hooks and how Aborigines got to Oz. I reckon old Noah dropped them off when he was offloading all the world's marsupials in an unscheduled and undocumented stopover before beaching himself on mount Ararat. That Noah was a bit of a bugger, not keeping a decent ships log - he also dropped all the limas in Madagascar and didn't get around to mentioning that, and of course the Bison and New World monkeys in the New World. Why he kept 2 mosquitos is a mystery though - should have let them drown. With such bad log keeping, maybe he was trolling some lures out back of the ark and that's how they got snagged and left for the archeologists. Who can say :-)

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