Skip to main content

World's Oldest Fishhooks Found in Southeast Asia

World's Oldest Fishhooks Found in Southeast Asia

Oldest fish hooksLooks like fishing is an even older tradition than we thought.

Archeologists recently discovered a stash of prehistoric fishhooks in a limestone cave in the southeast Asian country of East Timor, according to reports.

Australian archeologist Sue O'Connor and her colleagues discovered the hooks, which are made from shells, and dated the hooks as far back as 42,000 years.

Before the discovery, the oldest fishhook was believed to be 5,500 years old.


In addition, the early anglers clearly had some success, as the team discovered more than 38,000 fish bones at the site, including some offshore species such as tuna. There was even evidence of humans eating sharks and rays at the site.


"That these types of fish were being routinely caught 40,000 years ago is extraordinary," O'Connor said. "It requires complex technology and shows that early modern humans in island South East Asia had amazingly advanced maritime skills."

Researchers speculate that the anglers may have used fiber lines cast from rafts, though the hooks discovered by O'Connor and her team didn't seem suitable for offshore fishing -- however other hooks could have been made, she said.

Humans are believed to have arrived in Australia about 50,000 years ago, but O'Connor's find proves humans had the know-how to craft fishing tools and methods much earlier than previously believed. The tradition likely played a key role in human survival as the anglers crossed the Indian Ocean to Australia.

While older fish bones dating 140,000-50,000 years ago have been discovered in Africa, they belonged to inland species and were likely caught using more primitive methods, researchers said.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Daiwa J-Fluoro Samurai Fluorocarbon Fishing Line

Pro angler Cody Meyer calls Daiwa's J-Fluoro Samurai the best fluorocarbon he's ever fished. Meyer spoke with In-Fisherman associate publisher Todd Ceisner as part of the 2020 ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel

In-Fisherman's Managing Editor, Rob Neuman, sits down with bass pro Josh Douglas, to get insight on the all-new ShimanoVanford spinning reel. It features a LongStroke Spool for long-distance casting. The Vanford spinning reel will be available in 7 sizes: 500-5000. MSRP: $299.99 - $239.99.

Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler & Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kits

Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler & Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kits

New products from ICAST 2020 included the Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler and Deluxe Anchor Trolley kits. Bill Bragman highlights the features of each kit.

Bubba Blade: Multi-Flex Interchangeable Blade Set

Bubba Blade: Multi-Flex Interchangeable Blade Set

Four blades in versatile knife system to fit your needs; ICAST Fishing Gear Guide.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews of smelly ingredients often used to catch catfish. How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait Catfish

How To Make Your Own Catfish Dough Bait

Keith Sutton - August 04, 2015

When it comes to fishing baits, you won't find a more unusual variety than the strange brews...

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish time after time.10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About Catfish

10 Secret Catfish Baits You Didn't Know About

Anietra Hamper

We found 10 secret (and proven) catfish baits that have the staying power to attract catfish...

In need of a rugged container to sip from in the backcountry? We've got you covered. From tumblers to bottles to flasks (and even clever bottle openers), we've rounded up some of the best bar gear for the outdoors.Ultimate Outdoor Bar Gear Roundup The Deck

Ultimate Outdoor Bar Gear Roundup

Chelsie Walters and Jessyca Sortillon - August 31, 2020

In need of a rugged container to sip from in the backcountry? We've got you covered. From...

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different level of preparation, skill and effort.A Time for Giant Catfish Catfish

A Time for Giant Catfish

John N. Felsher - August 24, 2020

Almost anyone can catch a bunch of small catfish. Hooking a true monster requires a different...

See More Trending Articles

More Walleye

Line counters are inherently inaccurate. Here's how to get your walleye bait in the zone.How to Calibrate Line-Counter Fishing Reels Fishing How-To

How to Calibrate Line-Counter Fishing Reels

Mark Romanack

Line counters are inherently inaccurate. Here's how to get your walleye bait in the zone.

Sound and action that convinces even sluggish walleyes to bite.SPRO's New MadEye Series Walleye Baits Walleye

SPRO's New MadEye Series Walleye Baits

Game & Fish Staff - May 27, 2020

Sound and action that convinces even sluggish walleyes to bite.

These minnow jigs are hot among walleye pros.4 Great Lures for Rip-Jigging Walleyes Walleye

4 Great Lures for Rip-Jigging Walleyes

Matt Straw - August 21, 2019

These minnow jigs are hot among walleye pros.

When walleyes turn off to live bait offerings, switch to an aggressive snap jig presentation to trigger a reaction bite.Make it Snappy for Walleyes Walleye

Make it Snappy for Walleyes

Jeff Knapp - June 08, 2020

When walleyes turn off to live bait offerings, switch to an aggressive snap jig presentation...

See More Walleye

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now