The former occurrence of sturgeon in the North Sea: the contribution of archaeozoology and ancient DNA

This research aims at determining which sturgeon species historically occurred in the North Sea. Sturgeon was once found in all major rivers of Western Europe, but now the fish is nearly extinct. Traditionally, it was assumed these sturgeons all belonged to the same species, the European sturgeon (Acipenser sturio). However, evidence has been found for the presence of another sturgeon species, the Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) at the Atlantic coasts of France and in the Baltic Sea. This project wants to investigate which sturgeon species used to occur in the North Sea by conducting an osteomorphological and genetic analysis on archaeological sturgeon remains and on modern museum specimens. The results will be relevant to policy makers responsible for conservation and re-introduction of sturgeon.

Related publications

  • Van Neer, W. et al. Hunting, gathering, fishing and herding: animal exploitation in sandy Flanders (NW Belgium) during the second half of the 5th millennium BC. Environmental Archaeology 18, 87-101 (2013).
  • Van Neer, W., Thieren, E. & Brinkhuizen, D. A bouquet of archaeozoological studies. Essays in honour of Wietske Prummel (D., R. , E., E. , R., L. & J., Z. ) 197-203 (Barkhuis, 2012).
Internal member(s)
Wim Van Neer
Gontran Sonet
Wim Wouters
Other member(s)
Copromoter: Filip Volckaert (Laboratory of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Genomics, KU Leuven)
Assessor: Luc Brendonck (Laboratory of Aquatic Ecology, Evolution and Conservation, KU Leuven)
Assessor: Dick Brinkhuizen (University Groningen, NL)
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