Thanksgiving has always been linked with turkey as the centerpiece of the family meal. However, not many people are familiar with how and when the animals were first domesticated. Scientists have finally found the answer to that mystery.
Archaeologists from the Field Museum in Oaxaca, Mexico, have discovered signs which might be the earliest evidence we have of domesticated turkeys. According to Garry Feinman, the curator of the Museum’s Mesoamerican anthropology department stated that there is genuine scientific interest in discovering when and where the animals were first domesticated.
The museum’s findings consist of a 1500-year-old grouping of hatched as well as neonatal turkeys which were buried together as an offering by the local populace back then. The archaeologists were able to determine that the turkeys were domesticated by the number of young eggs in a particular complex since the wild turkey female doesn’t lay that many eggs.
Feinman together with Linda Nicholas are the main authors of the paper, which was published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, claim that their discovery is the most comprehensive and clearest evidence anyone has ever found regarding turkey domestication.
They made the discovery of the buried eggs while excavating various hillside household sites back in 2009. Even at that time they were aware of the significance of the discovery since the growing turkeys were one of the two main sources of domesticated meat for Hispanic Mesoamericans. In case you’re wondering what the other source was, researchers claim that it consisted of dog meat.
Upon closer examination of the discovered remains of adult and juvenile turkeys as well as their eggs, they found that it bears a close resemblance to the current turkey, although smaller in size, which millions of Americans are going to eat on Thanksgiving.
Additionally, the archaeologists also found evidence that seems to indicate that the turkeys were also used in various rituals, besides just breeding them for their meat. They found three separate turkey skeletons in a grave, which indicates that they were part of a funeral sacrifice or something similar since they also discovered two obsidian blades which were probably used to slaughter the birds.
What do you think about this new evidence regarding domesticated turkeys? Did you ever wonder when and where humans first domesticated turkeys?
Image source: Wikipedia