23,000-Year-Old Fishhooks Discovered in Australia

An ancient fish hook recently discovered in a cave reveals that early humans were catching deep sea pelagic fish like tuna a whole lot earlier than previously thought.

From this story in the UK Daily Mail:

Humans mastered the art of catching fast-moving, deep-water fish such as tuna more than 40,000 years ago, archaeologists revealed today. A team of Australian experts have uncovered evidence of the practice in a small cave at the eastern end of East Timor, north of Australia, which contained the bones of more than 2,800 fish. Some were caught as long as 42,000 years ago.

_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. 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. She said: 'The site that we studied featured more than 38,000 fish bones from 2,843 individual fish dating back 42,000 years. 'What the site in East Timor has shown us is that early modern humans in 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.'_