History of Thanksgiving: Your Thanksgiving Turkey Has An Epic Backstory That Goes Way Beyond The Very First Thanksgiving

By Arianne Gift , Updated Nov 25, 2016 06:59 AM EST
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Researchers have long known that turkeys had been a part of the lives of Native Americans before the very first Thanksgiving in 1621. However, a new research gave depth to the long-known fact, which proves that turkeys were more than just animals whose feathers were used as headdresses, on arrows and in clothing.

The Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports published a study indicating that turkeys were not just a casual part of life for Native Americans pre-Thanksgiving era. In the report, researchers have found out that the Native Americans domesticated the birds, based on the examined skeletons from archaeological sites in Tennessee.

History of Thanksgiving: Male Turkeys Are Favored

"In a typical flock of turkeys, there are usually more females. But in the flock they examined, they found more remains of males. That would only happen if it were designed that way," said Florida State University's Dr. Tanya Peres. Unlike today's average Thanksgiving turkeys, these ancient fowls were much larger and big boned, which could only mean that they are purposefully cared for.

"Native Americans were favoring males for their bones for tools. And they certainly would have favored males for their feathers. They tend to be much brighter and more colorful than the female species," Dr. Peres added in a FSU statement.

History of Thanksgiving: Turkeys Weren't Typically Roasted Long Ago

The anticipated Thanksgiving turkey every November is particularly large enough, but the published research indicates that turkeys of that era were particularly robust. The increased size is a result of the domestication process of Native Americans, the study further states.

Many Americans know of Thanksgiving Day as a commemoration of the Pilgrim Fathers who founded one of the first English settlements in North America, now the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. Perhaps the publication of this study will further the significance of Thanksgiving, or maybe change the way how most people think of turkeys in general.

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