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Beaver Castoreum Detected on 6,000-Year-Old Dart in Canada

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Canada Yukon DartYUKON, CANADA—Yukon News reports that beaver castoreum has been detected on a 6,000-year-old atlatl throwing dart recovered in 2018 from melting alpine ice in the traditional territories of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and the Kwalin Dün First Nation in northwestern Canada. The yellowish-brown fluid is produced in the castor sacs of mature beavers. Valery Monahan of Yukon Museums said the substance looks like orange residue coating the binding sinews on the wood artifact. It is not known if the castoreum was used as a preservative, adhesive, or colorant. A mix of spruce resin and red ochre used as an adhesive has been detected on other artifacts recovered from the ice patch. “This discovery demonstrates yet again the sophisticated knowledge Yukon’s ancient First Nations people had about their environment, lands, and resources,” commented Carcross/Tagish First Nation Haa Sha du Hen Lynda Dickson. To read about now-extinct woolly dogs that were domesticated by Indigenous people, go to "Around the World: Canada."

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