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2000, year-old Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa) Aboriginal food remains, Australia


Stephenson, B and David, B and Freslov, J and Arnold, LJ and Delannoy, JJ and Petchey, F and Urwin, C and Wong, VNL and Fullagar, R and Green, H and Mialanes, J and McDowell, M and Wood, R and Hellstrom, J, 2000, year-old Bogong moth (Agrotis infusa) Aboriginal food remains, Australia, Scientific Reports, 10, (1) Article 22151. ISSN 2045-2322 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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© The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material.

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41598-020-79307-w


Insects form an important source of food for many people around the world, but little is known of the deep-time history of insect harvesting from the archaeological record. In Australia, early settler writings from the 1830s to mid-1800s reported congregations of Aboriginal groups from multiple clans and language groups taking advantage of the annual migration of Bogong moths (Agrotis infusa) in and near the Australian Alps, the continent’s highest mountain range. The moths were targeted as a food item for their large numbers and high fat contents. Within 30 years of initial colonial contact, however, the Bogong moth festivals had ceased until their recent revival. No reliable archaeological evidence of Bogong moth exploitation or processing has ever been discovered, signalling a major gap in the archaeological history of Aboriginal groups. Here we report on microscopic remains of ground and cooked Bogong moths on a recently excavated grindstone from Cloggs Cave, in the southern foothills of the Australian Alps. These findings represent the first conclusive archaeological evidence of insect foods in Australia, and, as far as we know, of their remains on stone artefacts in the world. They provide insights into the antiquity of important Aboriginal dietary practices that have until now remained archaeologically invisible.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Aboriginal food remains, Bogong moth
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Palaeoecology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:McDowell, M (Dr Matthew McDowell)
ID Code:144619
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:1
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2021-05-31
Last Modified:2021-06-09
Downloads:5 View Download Statistics

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