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Cultural and Genetic Contexts for Early Turkey Domestication in the Northern Southwest

  • William D. Lipe (a1), R. Kyle Bocinsky (a2), Brian S. Chisholm (a3), Robin Lyle (a4), David M. Dove (a5), R.G. Matson (a3), Elizabeth Jarvis (a3), Kathleen Judd (a6) and Brian M. Kemp (a7)...


The turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) was independently domesticated in Mesoamerica and the Southwest, the latter as the only case of Native American animal domestication north of Mexico. In the upland (non-desert) portion of the American Southwest, distinctive closely related mtDNA lineages belonging to haplogroup H1 (thought to indicate domestication) occur from ca. 1 A.D. (Basketmaker II period) through early historic times. At many sites, low frequencies of lineages belonging to haplogroup H2 also occur, apparently derived from the local Merriam’s subspecies. We report genetic, stable isotope, and coprolite data from turkey remains recovered at three early sites in SE Utah and SW Colorado dating to the Basketmaker II, III, and early Pueblo II periods. Evidence from these and other early sites indicates that both the H1 and H2 turkeys had a predominantly maize-based diet similar to that of humans; prior to late Pueblo II times, the birds were kept primarily to provide feathers for blankets and ritual uses; and ritualized burials indicate turkeys’ symbolic value. We argue that viewing individuals from the H1 and H2 haplogroups as “domestic” versus “wild” is an oversimplification.

El pavo (Meleagris gallopavo) fue domesticado independientemente en Mesoamérica y el Suroeste Americano, siendo este último el único caso de domesticación al norte de México. En las tierras altas (no desérticas) del Suroeste Americano se encuentran linajes de ADN mitocondriales distintivos y estrechamente relacionados pertenecientes al haplogrupo H1 (considerado indicador de domesticación) desde ca. I d.c. (Período Basketmaker II) hasta comienzos de los tiempos históricos. En muchos sitios también existe la presencia de bajas frecuencias de linajes pertenecientes al haplogrupo H2, aparentemente derivados de las subespecies Merriam locales. Presentamos información genética, de isótopos estables, y coprolitos de restos de pavos recuperados en tres sitios tempranos en el sureste de Utah y suroeste de Colorado datados para los períodos Basketmaker II, III, y Pueblo Temprano II. La evidencia de estos y otros sitios tempranos indica que tanto los pavos H1 como los H2 tuvieron una dieta predominantemente basada en maíz, similar a la de los humanos; antes de los tiempos Pueblo Tardío II, las aves fueron criadas principalmente para proveer plumas para cobijas y usos rituales; entierros ritualizados indican el valor simbólico de los pavos. Argumentamos que catalogar a los individuos de los haplogrupos H1 y H2 como “domésticos” versus “salvajes” es una simplificación excesiva.


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Cultural and Genetic Contexts for Early Turkey Domestication in the Northern Southwest

  • William D. Lipe (a1), R. Kyle Bocinsky (a2), Brian S. Chisholm (a3), Robin Lyle (a4), David M. Dove (a5), R.G. Matson (a3), Elizabeth Jarvis (a3), Kathleen Judd (a6) and Brian M. Kemp (a7)...


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