Domesticated Turkey is a large fowl and it belongs to the genus Meleagris.
It is one of the most popular forms of poultry and is hailed for its low price and high meat content. The genus Meleagris consists of the domesticated turkey and the wild turkey.
It was generally understood and believed that the domestication of this species was done in Mesoamerica.
This historical region now consists of modern-day countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, central-southern Mexico, etc.
Some newer research has brought this into question and has brought a possible second site of domestication, in the southwestern regions of the United States.
Today, we’ll explore the process of this domestication. We will look at where it came from, and who took hold of the species and made them into one of the most popular poultry animals all over.
Where Did Domesticated Turkey Come From?
Domesticated turkey comes from the species Meleagris Gallopavo, which is the wild turkey, a species native to the Americas.
Coincidentally, turkey is a thanksgiving staple of the United States and is consumed as one of the most popular meats all over.
Thanks to advancements in genetic and archeological investigation equipment, we can make a pretty good estimate as to who was responsible for domesticating this wild species and making it an annual household tradition across the country.
It may not surprise anyone to know that the Native Americans are the ones responsible.
Like many of America’s traditional food elements, the credit for the domestication of turkey also goes to Indigenous Americans.
The Spanish then, in the 1500s, brought this domesticated turkey from the Americas to Asia and Europe, and they passed through the country Turkey, and it is believed that is where its household name comes from.
European depictions of turkey date all the way to the 16th century. Until the late 19th century, turkey was considered luxurious meat consumed by the upper classes.
By the late 1940s, the farming rate of turkeys increased immensely, resulting in decreased prices which made it a much more affordable meat product for many.
It was observed that free and highly available food domesticated the wild turkeys pretty easily. They were bred not only for their meat but for their plumage and bones as well.
Where Did Turkeys Originally Come From?
All of the modern-day domesticated turkeys come from South Mexico. They all come from an Aztec bird variety that has been tamed.
It initially originated in the Americas and was domesticated by Americans. It was then brought to Europe and Asia in the 16th century by the Spanish.
Who Originally Domesticated Turkeys?
In southern Mexico, it is most likely that the wild breeds of turkey were domesticated by Mayans who are indigenous to the region.
Seeing the surplus availability, as well as their potential for meat farming, it was taken the Spaniards to Europe and Asia.
In Europe, and England especially, turkeys were expensive enough to be considered a luxury, and eaten only by the upper and upper-middle class.
Later on, because of the increase in turkey cultivation, turkey became a much more affordable meat.
Where Was The First Turkey Domesticated?
Though now there have been two epicenters established where the turkeys must have been domesticated, the main one was in Central and Southern Mexico.
The basic evidence of this was when archeological investigations brought up bones of the wilder variety of what we consume today, all over the region. It was also found from about as early as 800 B.C.E!
What Countries Are Turkeys Native To?
Turkeys belong to the genus Meleagris and are native to the Americas.
The oldest fossil fuels show their existence in that region for a very long period, and it was domesticated by the Americans, before being a homemade staple of the United States, and a symbol of the country’s pride.
It was later brought to Asia and Europe by the Spanish and later on, became popularized because of the intensive farming practices of turkey production.
How Did Domestic Turkeys Become White?
Originally, that is before the widespread domestication of the species, turkeys were classic bronze/brown in color. This is simply for aesthetic reasons.
Brown and bronze feathers are more noticeable on the animal carcass, even after diligent plucking.
But white feathers, on the other hand, made them much more attractive in the supermarkets and much less grotesque looking.
And so the white color of turkeys is a purposeful development initiated by farmers to make their appearance more marketable.
What Is The Difference Between A Wild Turkey And A Domesticated Turkey?
Of course, being domesticated for as long as they have, domesticated turkeys differ widely from their ancestors. The main differences are in their appearance as well as their survivability.
In appearance, as aforementioned, domestic turkeys are intentionally bred to be white in color to increase their market aesthetic value, whole wild turkey has a deep bronze-brown shade, with black feathers blended throughout.
Another main difference is in their survival capabilities.
Wild turkeys can easily navigate themselves through the woods and brave the harsh and often perilous conditions while domesticated turkeys have lost this innate ability and are unable to do so.
Hope you had a good time and more importantly, learned something new from this article.
The evolution of animals based on their environment is always a fascinating thing to study and we hope we gave you some new insight into the evolution and origins of domestic turkeys!
Thank you for reading!
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