Whale-Barnacle Barbecue

Digs & Discoveries July/August 2013

(Courtesy J. Emili Aura Tortosa, University of Valencia)

Remains of small crustaceans in the residue of a 14,000-year-old campfire suggest that the Upper Paleolithic people of Malaga, Spain, had much larger animals on the menu. Researchers from the University of Valencia identified the remains of two species of barnacles that live only on whale skin. The finds suggest that people of the Magdalenian culture consumed whale meat, though there’s no evidence they hunted this one—the marine mammal may have beached or been stranded by a low tide. Both species of barnacles are associated with whales that now live in the Southern (but not Northern) Atlantic, suggesting that lower sea temperatures during the last Ice Age altered the cetaceans’ range. 

  • Artifacts July/August 2013


    A 13th-century limestone sundial is one of the earliest timekeeping devices discovered in Egypt

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    (Courtesy University of Basel, Egyptology)
  • Around the World July/August 2013


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    (Courtesy Tokamachi City Museum)
  • Digs & Discoveries July/August 2013

    Not Quite Ancient

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    (Photo: Georgia Museum of Art,courtesy of the University of Mississippi Museum)
  • Features July/August 2013

    The First Vikings

    Two remarkable ships may show that the Viking storm was brewing long before their assault on England and the continent

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    (Courtesy Liina Maldre, University of Tallinn)