The archaeologists described excavating the remains of adult and juvenile turkeys; whole, unhatched eggs; and eggshell fragments from two residential structures dated between A.D. 300 and 1200. The locations and context of the bones and eggshells suggested both domestic and ritual use of the animals, and “multiple lines of evidence” hinted that the breeding and raising of turkeys were commonplace in the region by A.D. 400 to 600, providing the earliest known evidence of turkey domestication, the study authors wrote.
Three subspecies of wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) are native to Mexico, and turkey remains were abundant at the site, known as Mitla Fortress. Some remains were found in areas where household trash was buried, but others — both eggs and bones — were uncovered in locations within the residences that were associated with domestic rituals.
Story: Mindy Weisberger, Live Science | Photo: Linda Nicholas, The Field Museum