The canoe was dated at 8,500 to 8,000 years old by radiocarbon dating of a sample of charcoal found near the site, linking the site to Lake Mega Chad. The canoe measures 8 meters (26 feet) in length.
The Dufuna Canoe was discovered in the Yobe State village of Dufuna, which is located between Potiskum and Gashua. Mallam Ya’u, a Fulani cow herder, was digging a well on May 4, 1987, when he came across a hard object at a depth of 4.5 meters. The discovery was reported to his village chief.
The University of Maiduguri conducted an initial investigation of the site in 1989 and 1990 to determine if it was a canoe and to take radiocarbon dating samples of the wood.
Professors Peter Breunig and Garba Abubakar would later return to the site as part of a joint research project sponsored by the University of Frankfurt and Maiduguri, and more wood samples would be taken and dated by two German laboratories.
An archaeology team from Germany and Nigeria excavated the site in 1994, and the canoe was discovered to be 8.4 meters long, 0.5 meters wide, and 5 cm thick after two weeks of digging by fifty laborers.
The canoe was discovered in a waterlogged state on a sandy bed, with layers of clay between it and the surface protecting it from the lack of oxygen.
The bow and stern of the canoe had been skillfully worked to points, and the work was done with “core axe-like and pick-axe bifacial tools of micro-lithic appearance,” according to an examination of the canoe.
Professor Breunig stated that the canoe’s construction ability had evolved over time and that it was not a new design.
Another research published in 2015 by an American science team found that Lake Chad had shrunk by 95 percent in forty years, implying that the region of the village of Dufuna would have been part of the lake’s flood plain in the distant past.
It’s the oldest boat ever found in Africa, and the second-oldest boat in the world.
Currently, the canoe is in Damaturu, the state capital.