January 25, 2018

New Research into Mesoamerican Turkeys

A group of international researchers have studied the remains of 55 turkeys dated at 300 BCE-1500 CE in Mesoamerica. The DNA showed European turkeys are descended from Mexico. The researchers found that the Mesoamerican turkeys were consuming increasing amounts of corn which shows more intensive farming of turkeys. Turkey bones are rarely found in domestic refuse, and none of the 55 turkeys studied had been eaten. Some were buried in temples and human graves, perhaps as companions in the afterlife. Turkeys have been depicted in Mesoamerica as gods and calendric symbols. The turkey was the first animal to be domesticated in Mesoamerica after the dog.

Some of the 55 turkeys analyzed were Ocellated turkeys, but they were left to roam free and never domesticated. The reason for this is a mystery.

The new research is published in the Royal Society Open Science

Archaeological excavation unearths evidence of turkey domestication 1,500 years ago

More information: Aurelie Manin et al. Diversity of management strategies in Mesoamerican turkeys: archaeological, isotopic and genetic evidence, Royal Society Open Science (2018). DOI: 10.1098/rsos.171613

Physorg has the report here;


Mike Ruggeri’s Mesoamerica News on Tumblr


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