Today at Discovery News you can find out how Native Americans domesticated turkeys, not just once, but twice, well over 1,500 years before Christopher Columbus and other Europeans set foot on American soil.
Native Americans were hardly starved for food. They had long before gotten their farming act together.
They instead raised turkeys for their feathers, which were "used in rituals and ceremonies, as well as to make feather robes or blankets," according to Simon Fraser University's Camilla Speller, who led the recent research project on North American turkey domestication. Her team's paper is in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
(Image: This photo, taken by John Grabill in 1891, shows a man named "Little," who was an Oglala band leader. In this studio portrait, Little is wearing a turkey feather headdress and is holding various weapons. Credit: Library of Congress)
Native American domestication of plants was directly tied to the later raising of turkeys.
"The domestication of squash and corn happened between 10,000-8,000 years ago, far before the domestication of turkeys," Speller told Discovery News.