Tracking the true tale of turkeys

June 11, 2010

The turkey dinner is a staple part of Christmas Day, but new research at the University of Leicester reveals that the history of the much loved poultry is in fact rather varied and unexpected.

Brooklynne Fothergill, from the University's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, has found that the turkey was not always used as a meat product. It was initially domesticated as a source of feathers, as well as being used for symbolic purposes by the indigenous peoples of North America.

Brooklynne Fothergill's research investigates the archaeology and history of the turkey through the interpretation of signs of disease present in turkey bones from archaeological sites. She also uses archival sources in order to place the turkey and human populations within the appropriate social and historical contexts. Her study spans a period of 1,000 years, from c. 750 to 1750, and identifies long-term patterns of disease and injury in the species and examines changes over time in animal husbandry practices.

The results of the study will be used to explore research questions concerning the health of turkey populations and the connections between the health of and human behaviour.

Brooklynne commented:

"My project will be the first systematic analysis of signs of disease and injury in a North American species, and the first to explore the socio-economic context and health impact of the transatlantic movement of animals."

Explore further: Turkeys domesticated not once, but twice

Related Stories

Turkeys domesticated not once, but twice

February 8, 2010

Turkeys, the only domesticated animals from the New World that are now used globally, were actually domesticated twice -- once in Mesoamerica as was previously believed and once in what is now the southwestern United States.

Ian's frozen turkey products recalled

August 15, 2007

The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service announced the voluntary recall of approximately 12,894 pounds of Ian's frozen turkey products due to mislabeling.

New safety recommendations set for turkey cooking

November 29, 2006

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service has updated poultry cooking recommendations this year, including the recommendation that the bird be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, said Lynn Paul, ...

Turkish health workers condone wife beating

December 13, 2007

Domestic violence is an inherent problem in Turkey, and healthcare workers are doing little to combat the prevalence of wife beating, according to research published in the online open access journal, BMC Public Health. ...

Modern Turkey: Modern Miracle

November 18, 2009

( -- Many of us will sit down with our families to a wonderful turkey dinner this Thanksgiving. But statistics increasingly show that Americans consider turkey a year-round staple.

Recommended for you

Experts uncover hidden layers of Jesus' tomb site

October 27, 2016

In the innermost chamber of the site said to be the tomb of Jesus, a restoration team has peeled away a marble layer for the first time in centuries in an effort to reach what it believes is the original rock surface where ...

Important ancient papyrus seized from looters in Israel

October 27, 2016

(—Eitan Klein, a representative of the Israel Antiquities Authority, has announced that an important papyrus document dated to 2,700 years ago has been seized from a group of Palestinian looters who reportedly ...

Ancient parrot fossil found in Siberia

October 26, 2016

(—A Russian paleontologist has discovered a parrot fossil uncovered in Siberia several years ago—the first evidence of parrots living in Asia. In his paper published in Biology Letters, Nikita Zelenkov describes ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.