World’s oldest fish hooks show early humans fished deep sea

Posted: 11/25/2011 in all marine news

Charles Choi –

The world’s earliest known fish hooks reveal that humans fished the open sea for much longer than previously thought.

Past studies have revealed that early humans were capable of crossing the open ocean as far back as 50,000 years ago, such as they did to colonize Australia.

Until now, however, evidence that such mariners could fish while in the open sea dated back only to 12,000 years ago.

“In most areas of the world, evidence for our early ancestors’ coastal exploitation is now submerged — it was drowned by rising sea levels,” researcher Sue O’Connor, an archaeologist at Australian National University in Canberra, told LiveScience.

Now O’Connor and her colleagues have found evidence of prehistoric fishing gear and the remains of large fish such as tuna at a cave shelter known as Jerimalai, located in the Southeast Asian island nation of East Timor.

“East Timor became a new independent nation in 1999 when they voted for independence from Indonesian rule,” O’Connor noted.

“Most of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed when the Indonesians withdrew and tens of thousands of people were killed during the fight for independence.”

“However, the country is rebuilding, and it never ceases to amaze me that people who have experienced so much hardship and who are so poor can be so generous,” she added.

“I think working with the local East Timorese people who always assist my field team has been one of the most uplifting experiences of my life.”

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