Weird Fish: Defining a role for fish bone pathologies

Jennifer Harland, Wim Van Neer

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


The study of animal palaeopathology is a maturing subset of zooarchaeology. However, fish bone pathologies have rarely been discussed in any detail; even within modern fisheries literature bone pathologies from wild taxa are rarely mentioned. This paper uses several large assemblages from the North Atlantic region, as well as a single freshwater example from Belgium, to provide the first categorisation of fish pathologies. Six types of abnormality have been identified: injuries, tooth ‘abscesses’, age-related joint disease, congenital abnormalities, illness and stress, and neoplasms. Using modern reference collections and fisheries biology literature, initial attempts have been made to link these to causative agents. This study has identified age-related joint disease in older gadid fish for the first time, showing that these pathologies are to be expected in healthy wild populations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2016 Animal Palaeopathology Working Group meeting
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • fish bones
  • wild populations
  • environmental impact
  • fishing


Dive into the research topics of 'Weird Fish: Defining a role for fish bone pathologies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this