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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489


PLUG, Ina. Fish bone sizes as estimators of standard lengths of three southern African freshwater species with application to archaeological samples: a preliminary investigation. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2008, vol.104, n.1-2, pp. 71-75. ISSN 1996-7489.

Estimating standard lengths (SL) from freshwater fish bones found in archaeological samples can provide information on the status of past fish populations, their exploitation and environmental conditions. The bones of three fish species were measured and tested against the SL to determine their accuracy as predictors. A limited number of bones proved useful to determine SL. The results were applied to the fish bones from an archaeological site in Lesotho, to determine the median and maximum size of the prehistoric fishes. Most of these were of breeding size, while the maximum sizes estimated appear to exceed those of current angling records. This study is limited by a small sample of modern fishes with a relatively restricted size range, but nonetheless provides useful insights into the size distribution of ancient fish populations in Lesotho.

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