Old Japanese fish prints yield clues about dwindling species

The practice of Japanese fish printing, or gyotaku, records the catches of fishermen.
©Yusuke Miyazaki, Atsunobu Murase

The Japanese practice of making ink prints from fish known as gyotaku has let fishermen show off their catches and taught children about anatomy. Now researchers are finding that they can be used to study historical fish populations. Japanese researchers Yusuke Miyazaki and Atsunobu Murase studied 261 pieces of gyotaku taken from shops in areas with threatened fish species. The prints, they found, could help estimate how large the populations of these fish once were. Using DNA from the rubbings could yield other data, they said, in the study published in ZooKeys.

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