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

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 .

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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,
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
Authors/Creators:Crowther, William L
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
ISSN: 0080-4703
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
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