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You are here: Home / Library / RBINS Staff Publications 2016 / The Holocene occurrence of Acipenser spp. in the southern North Sea: the archaeological record

Els Thieren, Anton Ervynck, Dick Brinkhuizen, Alison Locker and Wim Van Neer (2016)

The Holocene occurrence of Acipenser spp. in the southern North Sea: the archaeological record

Journal of Fish Biology, on line 9 August 2016 10.1111/jfb.13094:1-16.

Archaeological sturgeon remains from the southern North Sea basin used to be automatically attributed to Acipenser sturio, since this was the only acipenserid species believed to occur there. These species identifications, however, were in need of revision after a growing number of indications were found for the historical presence of Acipenser oxyrinchus in western Europe. In this study, morphological and genetic data on sturgeon remains from archaeological sites along the southern North Sea are revised. A large number of Dutch, Belgian, British and some French archaeological sturgeon remains, dating from theMesolithic up to Late Modern times, are morphologically examined and fish sizes are reconstructed. This study of >7000 acipenserid bones proves the sympatric occurrence of European sturgeon A. sturio and Atlantic sturgeon A. oxyrinchus in the southern North Sea at least since the Neolithic (fourth millennium BC onwards), with A. oxyrinchus remains always outnumbering those of A. sturio. Human influence is documented by the decrease in finds through time, but no clear evidence was found for a diachronic change in fish lengths that could possibly be related to fishing pressure.

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