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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center

Fish Bones

March 8, 2016

Fish BonesFish (catfish, pike, sheepshead/drum, suckers, gar, bass, panfish, and many others) were an important warm-season food resource along the Mississippi River even centuries ago. We find bones from catfish of all sizes at local archaeological sites, from tiny fish only a couple of inches long to 50-pound flatheads or channel cats. A large number of animal bones, including these catfish bones, were found within the same soil zone in a refuse pit at a late Precontact Oneota village in La Crosse County. The two large bones, and the tiny bone between them, are all pectoral spines from catfish of different sizes. (Pectoral spines are those sharp little bones on the side of a catfish that poke you in the hand when you take them off the hook.)