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From the same journal

Ancient mitochondrial DNA analysis reveals complexity of indigenous North American turkey domestication

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Camilla F. Speller
  • Brian M. Kemp
  • Scott D. Wyatt
  • Cara Monroe
  • William D. Lipe
  • Ursula M. Arndt
  • Dongya Y. Yang


Publication details

JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
DatePublished - 16 Feb 2010
Issue number7
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)2807-2812
Original languageEnglish


Although the cultural and nutritive importance of the turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) to precontact Native Americans and contemporary people worldwide is clear, little is known about the domestication of this bird compared to other domesticates. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of 149 turkey bones and 29 coprolites from 38 archaeological sites (200 BC-AD 1800) reveals a unique domesticated breed in the precontact Southwestern United States. Phylogeographic analyses indicate that this domestic breed originated from outside the region, but rules out the South Mexican domestic turkey ( Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo) as a progenitor. A strong genetic bottleneck within the Southwest turkeys also reflects intensive human selection and breeding. This study points to at least two occurrences of turkey domestication in precontact North America and illuminates the intensity and sophistication of New World animal breeding practices.

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