Steve Thomas, the project's fish fauna analyst, studied the 700 fish bone from the East Steubenville site to tell which species were caught and to reveal other insights. Steve sorted fish bone by body part and species, paying special attention to the vertebrae: growth rings on these bones, just like a tree stump, tell the age of each fish when caught, and also the season of its capture.


Fishbone vertebrae of catfish and sauger excavated at the East Steubenville site.

Most catfish were between 5 and 10 years old when caught, quite large by modern sportfishing standards and no doubt making a good meal for the angler and his family. The RGP (rapid growth phase) for most fish takes place in the spring and summer. Steve's study of vertebral growth rings reveals that fish were taken either very early in the RGP (and hence early spring), or about halfway through the RGP (late spring, early summer).

Channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) were a common inhabitant of the prehistoric Ohio River. Younger channel 'cats' (left) often congregate, but older catfish (below), like those caught at East Steubenville, are generally solitary and would have been taken one at a time (photos courtesy Garold Sneegas).
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