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A hunter using an atlatl

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Dogs may have been kept as pets, and may have helped in hunting. Meso-Indians developed many new hunting and fishing techniques. They used fishhooks, traps, and nets for catching fish and other small animals, and they used a new weapon called the atlatl (pronounced at′lat′l) to help kill their most important prey, deer.

An atlatl was made from a flattish, two-foot long piece of wood and was used as a spear-thrower. It had a hook, made of bone or antler, attached on one end and a hand grip carved on the other end. A stone, clay, or shell weight was sometimes attached toward the hooked end to increase the force of the throw, or perhaps only for decoration. A spear was rested on the atlatl with the end of the spear shaft inserted into the atlatl hook. The hunter held the atlatl grip and the middle of the spear in the same hand, then he hurled the spear from the atlatl. The atlatl acted as an extension of his arm, giving extra power and accuracy to the throw.

Louisiana Prehistory
By Robert W. Neuman and Nancy W. Hawkins Neuman
Published in 1982
Available from gutenberg.org