Research: Blue crabs part of colonial-era diet

WASHINGTON – Early Americans may have eaten more blue crabs than previously thought.

New research published in the Journal of Archaeological Science found evidence of the crabs at archaeological sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay area, according to Smithsonian Science.

Researchers explored the holdings of museums and other collections from some 93 archaeological sites and discovered more than 900 crab remains had been unearthed.

The blue crab remains, mostly claws or bits of shell, date from a 17th century Native American site to an early 20th century African American site called Sukeek’s Cabin, according to the study.

The evidence also suggests that the crabs were larger than the crabs caught today in the bay.

Although not a food staple, Native Americans and American colonists clearly ate blue crabs, one of the researchers Torben Rick tells Smithsonian Science.

The fragile blue shell pieces tend to break down over time and also were not recognized during the archaeological digs, which had led experts to believe that the soft shell crabs were rarely eaten or not at all, according to Smithsonian Science.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up