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Study Finds North American Salmon Anglers as Far Back as 11,500 Years Ago

David Sepp/NOAA

Fish bones discovered on an Upward Sun River site in Alaska show evidence that salmon fishing was going on 11,500 years ago.

Findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences proving that people were fishing for salmon 11,500 years ago. The bones offer evidence that salmon spawning runs have been going on since the end of the last Ice Age.

The fish bones, which officials identified as being from chum salmon, were discovered with the remains of a paleoindian child from the central hearth of a residence. Testing showed that the fish had migrated upriver from the sea. This hadn’t been possible before that time because most of the rivers were blocked by glacial ice.

The site is only 31 miles downriver from the modern spawning area limit on the river.

The remains, according to researchers, predate known human uses of salmon in North America. This suggests that salmon could have influenced human expansion into the area.

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Study Finds North American Salmon Anglers as Far Back as 11,500 Years Ago