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Just a fortnight before Christmas, 1871, a young man, twenty-four years of age, returned home to his dinner about eight o'clock in the evening. He was married, and with him and his wife lived his wife's sister. At that somewhat late hour he walked in among the two young women, and another much older woman who was preparing the table for dinner. The wife and the wife's sister each had a child in her lap, the elder having seen some fifteen months of its existence, and the younger three months. "He has been out since seven, and I don't think he's had a mouthful," the wife had just said. "Oh, Harry, you must be half starved," she exclaimed, jumping up to greet him, and throwing her arm round his bare neck.
The accurate identification of fish 'ear-bones', known as otoliths, is essential to determine the fish prey of marine and terrestrial predators. Fish otoliths are species-specific when combining size, shape and surface features, and can remain undigested for long periods. As a result, they can indicate which fish make up the diet of various predators, including cephalopod, seabird, marine mammal and fish species. Such studies are crucial for understanding marine ecosystems, and trophodynamics in particular. Increasingly, these methods are being used to understand the diet of some terrestrial predators, also extending to that of humans in archaelogical studies.