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Turkey (bird)

Turkey (bird) - Alan's FUN Trivia Quizzes powered by ABEA turkey is either of two living species of large birds in the genus Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey, is native to the forests of North America. The other species, Meleagris ocellata, known as the Ocellated Turkey, is native to the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. The Domestic turkey is a descendent of the Wild Turkey.

What do you know about Turkeys but was afraid to ask?

1. What type of bird did the early Europeans name the turkey?

2. What was the confusions in naming the turkey and many Americas wild life?

3. What is a rafter?

4. Can turkey's fly?

5. Who wanted the turkey to be the proposed symbol of the United States?

6. Who featured a roast turkey as a symbol of prosperity in his painting "Freedom from Want"?

7. How do you make a "hand turkey"?

8. What information has turkey fossils told us?



1. When Europeans first encountered turkeys in the Americas they incorrectly identified the birds as a type of guineafowl (Numididae), also known as a turkey-cock from its importation to Central Europe through Turkey, and the name of that country stuck as the name of the bird. The confusion is also reflected in the scientific name: meleagris is Greek for guinea-fowl.

2. The names for M. gallopavo in other languages also frequently reflect its exotic origins, seen from an Old World viewpoint, and add to the confusion about where turkeys actually came from. The many references to India seen in common names go back to a combination of two factors: first, the genuine belief that the newly-discovered Americas were in fact a part of Asia, and second, the tendency during that time to attribute exotic animals and foods to a place that symbolized far-off, exotic lands. The latter is reflected in terms like "Muscovy Duck" (which is from South America, not Muscovy). This was a major reason why the name "turkey-cock" stuck to Meleagris rather than to the guinea fowl (Numida meleagris): the Ottoman Empire represented the exotic East.

3. The name given to a group of Turkeys is a rafter, although they are sometimes incorrectly referred to as a gobble or flock. Several other birds which are sometimes called "turkeys" are not particularly closely related: the Australian brush-turkey is a megapode, and the bird sometimes known as the "Australian turkey" is in fact the Australian Bustard, a gruiform. The bird sometimes called a Water Turkey is actually an Anhinga (Anhinga rufa).

4. While large domesticated turkeys are generally unable to fly, the smaller wild turkeys can fly extremely well. This allows them to perch in the branches of trees. Turkey poults (chicks) are unable to fly for the first two weeks after they hatch.

5. Benjamin Franklin regarded the turkey as a noble bird and preferred it to the eagle as the proposed symbol for the new United States, describing it as a "Bird of Courage."

6. Norman Rockwell featured a roast turkey as a symbol of prosperity in his painting "Freedom from Want", one of his Four Freedom Series.

7. A "hand turkey" is an image of a turkey created by tracing the hand. The four fingers represent feathers, and an eye and beak are added to the thumb. They can also be made by covering the hand in paint and pressing it on the paper to create the print. They have been extensively used as a means of occupying the minds of Elementary School-age American children for a few hours every year around the Thanksgiving holiday.

8. Many turkeys have been described from fossils. The Meleagrididae are known from the Early Miocene (c. 23 mya) onwards, with the extinct genera Rhegminornis (Early Miocene of Bell, U.S.) and Proagriocharis (Kimball Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Lime Creek, U.S.). The former is probably a basal turkey, the other a more contemporary bird not very similar to known turkeys; both were much smaller birds. A turkey fossil not assignable to genus but similar to Meleagris is known from the Late Miocene of Westmoreland County, Virginia. In the modern genus Meleagris, a considerable number of species have been described, as turkey fossils are robust, fairly often found, and turkeys show much variation among individuals. Many of these supposed fossilized species are now considered junior synonyms. One, the well-documented California Turkey Meleagris californica, became extinct recently enough to have been hunted by early human settlers. Though its actual demise is more probably attributable to climate change at the end of the last ice age. The modern species and the California Turkey seem to have diverged approximately one million years ago.

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