Turkey (bird)
Overview
For the familiar species, see Domestic turkey and Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey
The Wild Turkey is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which derives from the South Mexican subspecies of wild turkey .Adult wild turkeys have long reddish-yellow to grayish-green...

. For other uses, see Turkey (disambiguation)
Turkey (disambiguation)
Turkey primarily refers to:* Turkey, or the Republic of Turkey, a present-day Eurasian country* The historic state of the Ottoman Empire* European Turkey, a term used for Ottoman territories in Europe-Birds:...

.

A turkey is a large bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 in the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey
The Wild Turkey is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which derives from the South Mexican subspecies of wild turkey .Adult wild turkeys have long reddish-yellow to grayish-green...

, is native to the forests of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. The domestic turkey is a descendant of this species. The other living species is Meleagris ocellata or the Ocellated Turkey
Ocellated Turkey
The Ocellated Turkey is a species of turkey residing primarily in the Yucatán Peninsula. A relative of the more common Wild Turkey , it was sometimes previously treated in a genus of its own but the differences between this species and Meleagris gallopavo are too small to justify generic...

, native to the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

.

Turkeys are classed in the taxonomic
Taxonomy
Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

 order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 of Galliformes
Galliformes
Galliformes are an order of heavy-bodied ground-feeding domestic or game bird, containing turkey, grouse, chicken, New and Old World Quail, ptarmigan, partridge, pheasant, and the Cracidae. Common names are gamefowl or gamebirds, landfowl, gallinaceous birds or galliforms...

.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
For the familiar species, see Domestic turkey and Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey
The Wild Turkey is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which derives from the South Mexican subspecies of wild turkey .Adult wild turkeys have long reddish-yellow to grayish-green...

. For other uses, see Turkey (disambiguation)
Turkey (disambiguation)
Turkey primarily refers to:* Turkey, or the Republic of Turkey, a present-day Eurasian country* The historic state of the Ottoman Empire* European Turkey, a term used for Ottoman territories in Europe-Birds:...

.

A turkey is a large bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

 in the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Meleagris. One species, Meleagris gallopavo, commonly known as the Wild Turkey
Wild Turkey
The Wild Turkey is native to North America and is the heaviest member of the Galliformes. It is the same species as the domestic turkey, which derives from the South Mexican subspecies of wild turkey .Adult wild turkeys have long reddish-yellow to grayish-green...

, is native to the forests of North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

. The domestic turkey is a descendant of this species. The other living species is Meleagris ocellata or the Ocellated Turkey
Ocellated Turkey
The Ocellated Turkey is a species of turkey residing primarily in the Yucatán Peninsula. A relative of the more common Wild Turkey , it was sometimes previously treated in a genus of its own but the differences between this species and Meleagris gallopavo are too small to justify generic...

, native to the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula
Yucatán Peninsula
The Yucatán Peninsula, in southeastern Mexico, separates the Caribbean Sea from the Gulf of Mexico, with the northern coastline on the Yucatán Channel...

.

Turkeys are classed in the taxonomic
Taxonomy
Taxonomy is the science of identifying and naming species, and arranging them into a classification. The field of taxonomy, sometimes referred to as "biological taxonomy", revolves around the description and use of taxonomic units, known as taxa...

 order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 of Galliformes
Galliformes
Galliformes are an order of heavy-bodied ground-feeding domestic or game bird, containing turkey, grouse, chicken, New and Old World Quail, ptarmigan, partridge, pheasant, and the Cracidae. Common names are gamefowl or gamebirds, landfowl, gallinaceous birds or galliforms...

. Within this order they are relatives of the grouse
Grouse
Grouse are a group of birds from the order Galliformes. They are sometimes considered a family Tetraonidae, though the American Ornithologists' Union and many others include grouse as a subfamily Tetraoninae in the family Phasianidae...

 family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 or subfamily. Males of both species have a distinctive fleshy wattle
Wattle (anatomy)
A wattle is a fleshy dewlap or caruncle hanging from various parts of the head or neck in several groups of birds, goats and other animals. In some birds the caruncle is erectile tissue.The wattle is frequently an organ of sexual dimorphism...

 or protuberance that hangs from the top of the beak—called a snood
Comb (anatomy)
Anatomically, a comb is a fleshy growth, caruncle, or crest on the top of the head of gallinaceous birds, most notably turkeys, pheasants, and domestic chickens...

 in the Wild Turkey and its domestic descendants. They are among the largest birds in their ranges. As in many galliform species, the male (tom or gobbler) is larger and much more colorful than the female (hen).

History and naming

When Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

ans first encountered turkeys in the Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

, they incorrectly identified the birds as a type of guineafowl
Guineafowl
The guineafowl are a family of birds in the Galliformes order, although some authorities include the guineafowl as a subfamily, Numidinae, of the family Phasianidae...

 (Numididae). Guineafowl were also known as turkey fowl (or turkey hen and turkey cock) because they were import
Import
The term import is derived from the conceptual meaning as to bring in the goods and services into the port of a country. The buyer of such goods and services is referred to an "importer" who is based in the country of import whereas the overseas based seller is referred to as an "exporter". Thus...

ed to Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 through Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

. The name turkey fowl, shortened to just the name of the country, stuck as the name of the American bird.

The confusion between these kinds of birds from related, but different, families is also reflected in the scientific name for the turkey genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

: meleagris is Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 for guineafowl
Guineafowl
The guineafowl are a family of birds in the Galliformes order, although some authorities include the guineafowl as a subfamily, Numidinae, of the family Phasianidae...

. Two major reasons why the name 'turkey fowl' stuck to Meleagris rather than to the Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris) were the genuine belief that the newly-discovered Americas
Americas
The Americas, or America , are lands in the Western hemisphere, also known as the New World. In English, the plural form the Americas is often used to refer to the landmasses of North America and South America with their associated islands and regions, while the singular form America is primarily...

 were in fact a part of Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

, and the tendency during that time to attribute exotic animals and foods to a place that symbolized far-off, exotic lands.

In many countries, the name for turkeys refers to some other country. See List of names for the Wild Turkey.

Several other birds, which are sometimes called turkeys, are not particularly closely related: the Australian Brushturkey is a megapode, and the bird sometimes known as the "Australian Turkey" is the Australian Bustard
Australian Bustard
The Australian Bustard, Ardeotis australis, is a large ground bird of grassland, woodland and open agricultural country across northern Australia and southern New Guinea. It is also commonly referred to in Central Australia as the Bush Turkey, particularly by Aboriginal people.The male is up to ...

, a gruiform
Gruiformes
The Gruiformes are an order containing a considerable number of living and extinct bird families, with a widespread geographical diversity. Gruiform means "crane-like"....

. The bird sometimes called a Water Turkey is the Anhinga
Anhinga
The Anhinga , sometimes called Snakebird, Darter, American Darter, or Water Turkey, is a water bird of the warmer parts of the Americas. The word "anhinga" comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird.It is a cormorant-like bird with an average body length of , a...

 (Anhinga rufa), from the shape of its tail when the feathers are fully spread for drying.

Fossil record

Many turkeys have been described from fossil
Fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

s. The Meleagrididae are known from the Early Miocene
Early Miocene
The Early Miocene is a sub-epoch of the Miocene Epoch made up of two stages: the Aquitanian and Burdigalian stages....

 (c. 23 mya) onwards, with the extinct genera
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Rhegminornis
Rhegminornis
Rhegminornis is a genus of turkey from the early Miocene. It was described by Alexander Wetmore in 1943....

(Early Miocene of Bell, U.S.) and Proagriocharis
Proagriocharis
Proagriocharis is a genus of extinct turkey from the upper Pliocene, containing a single species, Proagriocharis kimballensis, which was smaller than most other turkeys....

(Kimball Late Miocene
Late Miocene
The Late Miocene is a sub-epoch of the Miocene Epoch made up of two stages. The Tortonian and Messinian stages comprise the Late Miocene sub-epoch....

/Early Pliocene
Zanclean
The Zanclean is the lowest stage or earliest age on the geologic time scale of the Pliocene. It spans the time between 5.332 and 3.6 Ma ± 0.005 Ma . It is preceded by the Messinian age of the Miocene epoch, and followed by the Piacenzian age....

 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
Westmoreland County, Virginia
As of the census of 2000, there were 16,718 people, 6,846 households, and 4,689 families residing in the county. The population density was . There were 9,286 housing units at an average density of...

. In the modern genus Meleagris, a considerable number of species have been described, as turkey fossils are robust and fairly often found, and turkeys show great 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 and it is believed its demise was due to the combined pressures of climate change
Climate change
Climate change is a significant and lasting change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns over periods ranging from decades to millions of years. It may be a change in average weather conditions or the distribution of events around that average...

 at the end of the last glacial period and hunting.

Turkeys known from fossils

  • Meleagris sp. (Early Pliocene of Bone Valley, U.S.)

  • Meleagris sp. (Late Pliocene of Macasphalt Shell Pit, U.S.)

  • Meleagris californica (Late Pleistocene of SW U.S.)—formerly Parapavo/Pavo
  • Meleagris crassipes (Late Pleistocene of SW North America)


Turkeys have been considered by many authorities to be their own family—the Meleagrididae—but a recent genomic analyses of a retrotransposon marker
Retrotransposon Marker
Retrotransposon markers are retrotransposons that are used as cladistic markers.The analysis of SINEs – Short INterspersed Elements – LINEs – Long INterspersed Elements – or truncated LTRs – Long Terminal Repeats – as molecular cladistic markers represents a particularly interesting complement to...

 groups turkeys in the family Phasianidae
Phasianidae
The Phasianidae is a family of birds which consists of the pheasants and partridges, including the junglefowl , Old World Quail, francolins, monals and peafowl. The family is a large one, and is occasionally broken up into two subfamilies, the Phasianinae, and the Perdicinae...

.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK