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Earliest evidence of ancient North American salmon fishing verified
UAF- Researchers in Alaska have found the earliest known evidence that Ice Age humans in North America used salmon as a food source, according to a new paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The findings counter traditionally held beliefs that Ice Age Paleoindians were primarily big-game hunters. They are based on analysis of 11,500-year-old chum salmon bones found by University of Alaska Fairbanks anthropologist Ben Potter and colleagues at the Upward Sun River site in Interior Alaska. Excavation of the site has revealed human dwellings, tools and human remains, as well as the salmon bones.
“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.
The findings also suggest that salmon spawning runs were established much earlier and much farther north than previously thought, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, also known as the last Ice Age.
Ancient DNA and stable isotope analysis verified the fish remains as sea-run chum salmon that migrated upriver some 1,400 kilometers from where the mouth of the Yukon River now exists. These analyses indicate that modern salmon migrations may have ancient roots, dating back to at least the end of the last 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."
The salmon were found in an ancient cooking hearth in a residential structure. Fish remains pose a challenge to archaeologists because their bones are very small and fragile and typically do not preserve well. Because of these challenges, their remains are likely underrepresented in global archaeological studies and findings.
The findings show that ancient Beringian diets were broader than earlier thought and that Ice Age humans used complex strategies and specialized technology to obtain their food, Potter said. He also noted that there is no evidence to suggest that salmons runs weren’t also present in the area a few thousand years prior to the time when people were living at the Upward Sun River site. “This suggests that salmon fishing may have played a role in the early human colonization of North America.”
The excavation and analysis were funded in part by the National Science Foundation. Other contributors to the paper include UAF postdoctoral researcher Holly McKinney, Bruce Finney of Idaho State University, and Antonia Rodrigues and Dongya Yang of Simon Fraser University.
COV PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release: 09/21/2015 2:00 p.m.
Valdez, AK – The City of Valdez continues to actively monitor plans by the Aleut Corporation to close the Aleutian Village Trailer Park in 2016.
A work session is scheduled for September 21, 2015 to update Valdez City Council and park residents and continue to discuss the way forward. Additional town hall style meetings will be held after City of Valdez and Aleut Corporation representatives meet in October.
The City Public Information Office has established a community email distribution list to provide updates of City actions regarding the closure. Anyone wishing to subscribe to the list should contact Allie Hendrickson, public information officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Shell announced it would end its entire program in the offshore U.S. Arctic, the hyperbole and finger-pointing began in earnest. But the record shows that much of the blame-placing and credit-taking is based on misunderstandings and myths.
Since 2007, as fall sea ice has retreated, Pacific walruses have hauled out near Point Lay on Alaska's North Slope by the thousands in what has become an iconic image of climate change. But how long have they been doing it?
Last week, surging waves eroded the beach near the Kivalina airport, eating away 10 feet of land along the coastline of the threatened Chukchi Sea barrier island before residents were able to stabilize the bank.
A new pan-Arctic Inuit organization is taking its case on seal hunting directly to the European Parliament on Thursday. The organization called Inuit Sila is based in Copenhagen and has been defending and promoting Greenland Inuit seal hunters for three years, but has announced it is becoming a pan-Arctic NGO to include all Inuit and the important tradition of seal hunting.
Both Gazprom and Rosneft want the license to the Murmanskoye field in the Barents Sea. The scene is set for another Arctic power battle between Russia’s two leading energy companies as they both sign up for the license to the Murmanskoye field.
”We will continue to publish good Barents stories as long as we can” ”We are one less person, but will do our best keep up our work with BarentsObserver”, editorial staff members Trude Pettersen and Atle Staalesen say.
Scientists who have been raising alarms about the endangered ice sheet of West Antarctica say they've identified a key glacier that could pose the single most immediate threat to the world's coastlines - and are pushing for an urgent new effort to study it.
Fort Wainwright soldiers train in Asia
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — About 450 Alaska-based soldiers are descending on South Korea after spending nearly a month in Japan, with a majority of that time spent training with the Japanese Ground Self-Defe
‘Fairbanks Four’ back in court Monday
FAIRBANKS — A month-long legal battle begins Monday about the freedom of four men convicted of a 1997 Fairbanks murder and the fairness of the trials that led to their convictions.