Early human use of anadromous salmon in North America at 11,500 y ago
Halffman et al
Salmon represented a critical resource for prehistoric foragers along the North Pacific Rim, and continue to be economically and culturally important; however, the origins of salmon exploitation remain unresolved. Here we report 11,500-y-old salmon associated with a cooking hearth and human burials from the Upward Sun River Site, near the modern extreme edge of salmon habitat in central Alaska. This represents the earliest known human use of salmon in North America. Ancient DNA analyses establish the species as Oncorhynchus keta (chum salmon), and stable isotope analyses indicate anadromy, suggesting that salmon runs were established by at least the terminal Pleistocene. The early use of this resource has important implications for Paleoindian land use, economy, and expansions into northwest North America.