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Domestic Turkey

Domestic Turkey - Alan's FUN Trivia Quizzes powered by ABEThe domesticated turkey is a large poultry bird raised for food. The modern domesticated turkey descends from the wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), one of the two species of turkey (genus Meleagris). In the past the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata) was also domesticated. Despite the name, turkeys have no direct relation to the country of Turkey and are native to North America.

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

True or false?

1. Since the modern domesticated turkey is a descendant of the Wild Turkey.

2. Turkeys were taken to Europe by the Spanish who had found them as a favorite domesticated animal among the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples.

3. Suggestions have been made that the Mexican Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata) might also be involved, but the plumage as well as DNA analysis of domestic turkeys supports this theory.

4. Prior to World War II, turkey was something of a luxury in the United Kingdom, with goose or beef a more common Christmas dinner.

5. Intensive farming of turkeys from the late 1940s dramatically cut the price.

6. The Small-breasted Bronze is the commercial turkey of choice for large scale industrial turkey farms.

7. The Bourbon Red turkey is a smaller commercial breed with dark reddish feathers with white markings.

8. Turkey droppings are being used as a fuel source in electric power plants.


Answers

1. True. Since the modern domesticated turkey is a descendant of the Wild Turkey, it is surmised that ancient Mesoamericans had chosen to domesticate this species rather than the Ocellated Turkey which is found in far southern Mexico. The Aztecs relied on the turkey (Mexican Spanish guajolote, from Nahuatl huexolotl) as a major source of protein (meat and eggs), and also used its feathers extensively for decorative purposes, as did many other Mesoamerican cultures. The turkey was associated with their trickster god Tezcatlipoca, perhaps because of its humorous behavior.

2. True. Turkeys were taken to Europe by the Spanish who had found them as a favorite domesticated animal among the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican peoples. After being introduced to Europe many distinct turkey breeds were developed (e.g. Spanish Black, Royal Palm). Turkey was one of the many game species hunted by early American colonists and is thought to have been served at the first Thanksgiving, although there is little evidence to support this claim. In the Midwestern United States in the mid to late 1800s, domestic turkeys were actually herded across the range in a manner similar to herding cattle. In the early 20th century, many advances were made in the breeding of turkeys resulting in varieties such as the Beltsville Small White.

3. False. Suggestions have been made that the Mexican Ocellated Turkey (Meleagris ocellata) might also be involved, but the plumage as well as DNA analysis of domestic turkeys does not support this theory; in particular, the chest tuft of domestic turkeys is a clear indicator of descent from the Wild Turkey (the Ocellated Turkey does not have this tuft).

4. True. Prior to World War II, turkey was something of a luxury in the United Kingdom, with goose or beef a more common Christmas dinner. (In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Bob Cratchit had a goose before Scrooge bought him a turkey).

5. True. Intensive farming of turkeys from the late 1940s dramatically cut the price and it became far and away the most common Christmas dinner meat. With the availability of refrigeration, whole turkeys could be shipped frozen to distant markets. Later advances in control of disease increased production even more. Advances in shipping, changing consumer preferences and the proliferation of commercial poultry plants for butchering animals has made fresh turkey available to the consumer.

6. False. The Broad-breasted White is the commercial turkey of choice for large scale industrial turkey farms, and consequently is the most consumed variety of the bird. Usually the turkey to receive a "presidential pardon", a US custom, is a Broad breasted White.

7. False. The Bourbon Red turkey is a smaller non-commercial breed with dark reddish feathers with white markings.

8. True. Turkey droppings are being used as a fuel source in electric power plants. One such plant in western Minnesota provides 55 megawatts of power using 700,000 tons of dung per year. The plant began operating in 2007. Three such plants are in operation in England.

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