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Notes on the habits of the extinct Tasmanian race. (1) The uses and manufacture of bone implements


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Crowther, William L (1924) Notes on the habits of the extinct Tasmanian race. (1) The uses and manufacture of bone implements. Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania. pp. 136-139. ISSN 0080-4703

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For many years amongst those interested in the study of Tasmanian implements, existed the idea of certain bones having been used by the natives, probably as "scrapers." Dr. F. Noetling (1) has examined certain specimens in the Tasmanian Museum, and in addition other bones ex. cavated by himself at Rocky Cape. As a result, in the paper mentioned, he comes to the. conclusion that those examples are simply portions of the fibulae of M. billardieri fractured by falls of that animal in the course of its flight when pursued. He reasons that all these specimens found in native feeding grounds are only traumatic fractures, and that therefore the use of bone implements was unknown to the native Tasmanian. In muCh time spent in reading works that contain references to Tasmanian aborigines, I have found no instances of an observer seeing such implements in actual use. Ling Roth (2) quotes La Billardiere (3) as noting the natives prepare small 'spatulate pieces of wood, by which they separated limpets or sea ears from the rocks, on which to feast. These they smoothed with a piece of shell. The bone implenients 1, 2, 3, and 4, hereunder described in detail, would have been too light for such use, except in the case of small and not too adhesive shell fish. I cannot but feel, however, that they would have been of considerable use in extracting the contents of such edible types as Turbo, etc. It seems reasonable to think, therefore, that such an instrument would be used, as a considerable proportion of the shells found on the mounds· are unbroken, and those not intact do not seem to have been crushed between stones. Such implements may also have been of use in getting out the contents of oysters, mutton fish, and more particularly the small conical type of shells. It is to be remembered that although many settlers in Van Diemen's Land have seen the aborigines hunting and camping for a day or two on their migrations, very few indeed, except La Billardiere, can have seen them in their natural state, collecting and eating their shell fish around their fires. The very presence of such observers would tend to cause all such feasting to cease.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, RST, Van Diemens Land, natural history, science, ecology, taxonomy, botany, zoology, geology, geography, papers & proceedings, Australia, UTAS Library
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Page Range: pp. 136-139
ISSN: 0080-4703
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information: Copyright Royal Society of Tasmania
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2012 05:47
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 04:30
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