History suggests that Aristotle (around 340 BC) was the first scientist to speculate that age could be determined from hard parts of fishes. Development of microscopes then allowed detailed ageing studies, initially using scales. It was not until 1899 that otoliths were used as an ageing structure, after difficulties were encountered with the use of scales. Other bony structures were investigated shortly thereafter. Almost 120 years since the first use of otoliths for ageing we have come a long way. Initially bony structures were used to estimate annual age and then more recently daily increments have been found in some structures. Similarly, chemical studies initially focused on the mineralogy of structures. Subsequent research then focused on trace and minor elements with significant developments often linked to advances or changes in instrumentation. As developments occurred there was a proliferation in the types of research and management questions that could be addressed. What were the pivotal developments in use of otoliths or other bony structures in fish and fisheries science and what were the key questions being addressed? Through a review of the literature as well as use of my own research spanning the last 20-30 years I will address these questions. In addition, I will provide insight into whether applications have reached their full potential and what I see as the next steps forward. Fish otoliths are likely to provide information not only on the species being investigated but also surrounding ocean conditions for years to come.