Tilapia species were consumed with the highest frequency (18%), followed by Synodontis or catfish (14%) and mormyrops or mormyrids (11%).
A large number of fish species (24) were consumed in the fishing villages with tilapia, synodontis (catfish) and mormyrids dominating consumption.
The closest occurrence of mormyrids is in the northern KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa (Skelton 1993: 92), some 200 km away from Ladybrand.
Mormyrids are not the only `exotic' creatures depicted in the local rock art.
Mormyrids are electrogenic and electroreceptive and give off an electric shock when handled.
There are no mormyrid bones in the deposit, and palaeoclimatic evidence indicates that mormyrids probably never occurred in the environs (Butzer 1984; Butzer & Vogel 1979; Wadley 1991:127; Tyson & Lindesay 1992: 275 -- 6; Skelton 1993; Mitchell 1994: 85).
We thank Simon Hall for identifying the Rose Cottage Cave fish remains, Paul Skelton for identifying the rock-paintings of mormyrids and for detailed discussion of the problems associated with the identification, James Brink and Nico Avenant for identifying the cattle depictions, Callie Lynch for providing information relating to the distribution of mammals in the Free State, Peter Mitchell for alerting us to the Roma giraffe painting, Carol Wallace for residue analyses of the grindstones, Carla Botha for preparing Figures 1 & 4, Kim Sales for preparing Figures 2, 7 & 8, and the Ladybrand Municipality for its interest in the site.
A more adequate identification of the Rose Cottage fish is that it represents a freshwater mormyrid (Willcox 1962: 6; Skelton 1996 pers.
This find provides independent verification of extensive exchange networks hinted at by the painting of the `exotic' mormyrid fish.
In some instances the rock art and material culture corroborate: the long-distance exchange suggested by the mormyrid painting is confirmed by the pierced marine shell from the east coast.