To find out, she hired a team of farmers and started digging. One month later they had recovered some 10,000 bits of stone, bone, and shell. The deepest, oldest layers of sediment had hardened, yielding chunks with artifacts studding their surfaces. It was impossible to know what was inside.
O’Connor brought the slabs to her lab and treated them with acetic acid, which coaxed out thousands more fish bones. Many of the oldest belonged to tuna, sharks, and other fast, deep-swimming fish that could not have been brought to the cave without boats and sophisticated equipment. O’Connor was startled to find that these remains dated to 42,000 years ago, the earliest evidence of deep-sea fishermen on record: “We knew we had a really big fishing story.”