Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 90, Issue 3, pp 287–299 | Cite as

Discriminant analysis as a tool to identify catfish (Ariidae) species of the excavated archaeological otoliths

  • Weizhong Chen
  • Mohsen Al-Husaini
  • Mark Beech
  • Khlood Al-Enezi
  • Sara Rajab
  • Hanan Husain


Catfish otoliths excavated from two archaeological sites in Kuwait, Sabiyah (ca. 7000 Years Before Present) and Al-Khidr, ca. 4000 YBP, were compared with those of Kuwait’s modern catfish. Otoliths from Kuwait’s four species of catfish, Netuma bilineata, N. thalassina, Plicofollis dussumieri, and P. tenuispinis were collected after recording total length and weight. Data recorded for both ancient and modern otoliths, including annual ring (age), weight, length and four otolith radii from transverse sections, were subject to discriminant analysis to differentiate among species and develop classification functions for otoliths. Comparisons of the results from the ancient and modern otoliths showed that most of the excavated otoliths (78% from Sabiyah and 100% from Al-Khidr) belong to the two presently dominate species N. bilineata and P. tenuispinis, indicating that ichthyofauna of Kuwait Bay may not have changed much in the past 7000 years.


Catfish Species identification Otolith Discriminant analysis 



The study described in this manuscript was part of the project “Comparative Study of Ancient and Modern Otoliths of Ariidae (Sea Catfish) From Kuwait Waters” which was supported jointly by the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters (NCCAL), and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR). Sincere gratitude is extended to all the team members of the project and also to Zora Miklíková, member of the Kuwaiti-Slovak Archaeological Mission to Failakah Island, for otoliths from the Al-Khidr site, to James M. Bishop for reviewing this manuscript.


  1. Al-Hassan J, Calayton D, Thomson M, Criddle RS (1988) Taxonomy and distribution of Ariid catfishes from the Arabian Gulf. J Nat Hist 22:473–487CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Al-Husaini M, Chen W, Al-Enezi K, Al-Baz A, Dashti T, Al-Ghanem M, Rajab S, Al-Jazzaf S, Taqi A, Husain H, Al-Rifaie K, Al-Yamani F (2008) Comparative study of ancient and modern otoliths of Ariidae (Sea Catfish) from Kuwait waters. Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, Report No. KISR 9264Google Scholar
  3. Andrus CFT, Crowe E (2000) Geochemical Analysis of Crassostrea virginica as a method to determine season of capture. J Archeological Sci 27:33–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Andrus CFT, Crowe DE, Sandweiss DH, Reitz EJ, Romanek CS (2002) Otolith δ18O record of Mid-Holocene sea surface temperature in Peru. Science 295:1508–1511PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Barta P, Benediková L, Hajnalová M, Miklíková Z, Belanová T, Shehab AH (2008) Al-Khidr on Failaka Island: preliminary results of the field works at a Dilmun culture settlement in Kuwait. Tuba Ar 11:121–134Google Scholar
  6. Bawazeer AS (1985) A preliminary study of age and growth of A. thalassinus in Kuwait waters. Annual Research Report, Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (1985)Google Scholar
  7. Beech M (2000) Site H3, As-Sabiyah, Kuwait: The Fish Bones. Unpublished manuscript. Department of Archaeology, University of York, UKGoogle Scholar
  8. Beech MJ (2001) In the land of the ichthyophagi: modelling fish exploitation in the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman from the 5th millennium BC to the late Islamic period. Ph.D. Thesis, University of York, UKGoogle Scholar
  9. Beech M, Al-Husaini M (2005) Preliminary report on the vertebrate fauna from site H3, Sabiyah: an Arabian Neolithic/’Ubaid site in Kuwait. In: Buitenhuis H, Choyke AM, Martin L, Bartosiewicsz L, Mashkour M (eds) Proceeding of the Sixth International Symposium on the Archaeozoology of Southwestern Asia and Adjacent Areas. ARC-Publicaties 123, The Netherlands, pp 124–138Google Scholar
  10. Beech MJ, Glover E (2005) The Environment and Economy of an Ubaid-Related Settlement on Dalma Island, United Arab Emirates. Paleorient 31:97–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Benediková L, Barta P (2009) A Bronze Age settlement at Al-Khidr, Failakah Island, Kuwait. Proc Semin Arab Stud 39:43–56Google Scholar
  12. Burke N, Brophy D, King PA (2008) Shape analysis of otolith annuli in Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus): A new method for tracking fish populations. Fish Res 91:133–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carpenter KE, Krupp F, Jonse DA, Zajonz U (1997) FAO species identification guide for fishery purpose: The living marine resources of Kuwait, Eastern Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. Rome, FAO. 1997. 293 p., 17 colour platesGoogle Scholar
  14. Carter R, Crawford H (2003) The Kuwait-British archaeological expedition to As-Sabiyah: report on the fourth season's work. Iraq LXV:77–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Carter R, Crawford H, Mellalieu S, Barret D (1999) The Kuwait-British archaeological expedition to As-Sabiyah: Report on the first season work. Iraq LX1:43–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Froese R, Pauly D (eds) (2009) FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication., version (03/2009)
  17. Hajnalová M, Miklíková Z, Belanová T (2009) Environmental research at Al-Khidr, Failakah Island, Kuwait. Proc Semin Arab Stud 39:197–202Google Scholar
  18. Hales LS, Reitz EJ (1992) Historical changes in age and growth of Atlantic croaker, Micropogonias undulatus (Perciformes: Sciaenidae). J Archaeol Sci 19:73–99CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Higham TFG, Horn PL (2000) Seasonal dating using fish otoliths: results from the Shag River mouth site, New Zealand. J Archaeol Sciences 27:439–448CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Patterson WP (1998) North American continental seasonality during the last millennium: high-resolution analysis of sagittal otoliths. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 138:271–303CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Patterson WP, Smith GR, Lohman KC (1993) Continental paleothermometry and seasonality using the isotopic composition of aragonitic otoliths of freshwater fishes. Geophys Monograms 78:191–202Google Scholar
  22. Petursdottir G, Begg GA, Marteinsdottir G (2006) Discrimination between Icelandic cod (Gadus morhua L.) populations from adjacent spawning areas based on otolith growth and shape. Fish Res 80:182–189CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Phillips CS (2002) Prehistoric middens and a cemetery from the Southern Arabian Gulf. In: Cleuziou S, Tosi M, and Zarins J (eds) Essays on the late prehistory of the Arabian Peninsula. Rome, Serie Orientale Roma XCIII. IsIAO, pp 169–186Google Scholar
  24. Simsek M, Olive DM, Al-Hassan JM (1990) Analysis of mitochondrial DNA by restriction endonucleases to distinguish three species of ariid catfish from the Arabian gulf. Biochem Syst Ecol 18:467–469CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Stransky C, Baumann H, Fevolden SE, Harbitz A, Høie H, Nedreaas KH, Salberg AB, Skarstein TH (2008) Separation of Norwegian coastal cod and Northeast Arctic cod by outer otolith shape analysis. Fish Res 90:26–35CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Surge D, Walker KJ (2005) Oxygen isotope composition of modern and archaeological otoliths from the estuarine hardhead catfish (Ariopsis felis) and their potential to record low-latitude climate change. Palaeogeogr Palaeoclimatol Palaeoecol 228:179–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Van Neer W, Ervynck A, Bolle LJ, Milner RS, Rijnsdorp AD (2002) Fish otoliths and their relevance to archaelogy: an analysis of medieval, post-medieval, and recent material of plaice, cod and haddock from the North Sea. Environ Archaeol 7:61–76Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weizhong Chen
    • 1
  • Mohsen Al-Husaini
    • 1
  • Mark Beech
    • 2
  • Khlood Al-Enezi
    • 3
  • Sara Rajab
    • 1
  • Hanan Husain
    • 1
  1. 1.Mariculture and Fisheries DepartmentKuwait Institute for Scientific ResearchSafatKuwait
  2. 2.Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and HeritageAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  3. 3.Kuwait National MuseumNational Council for Culture, Arts and LettersKuwait cityKuwait

Personalised recommendations