Documenting domestication: molecular and palynological analysis of ancient turkey coprolites from the American Southwest
Nott, BreAnne M.
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Although turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) is a favored food for many people worldwide, the domestication of the bird has received little academic attention. One study, which has attempted to rectify this lack of attention on turkey domestication, has identified a single domestic mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineage in the American Southwest, one that represents an independent domestication from that which lead to the central Mexican domesticate (Speller et al. 2010). The current study builds on this previous research to document another domestic mitochondrial lineage from turkey coprolites at Turkey Pen Ruin, southeastern Utah.Turkey Pen Ruin turkey coprolites exhibit two lineages previously identified as "aHap1" and "aHap2". Using a Fisher's exact test it was determined that mtDNA lineage frequencies at Turkey Pen Ruin deviate significantly from that exhibited by wild turkey populations in the region today (Merriam's turkey Meleagris gallopavo merriami). Pollen analysis of turkey coprolites also reveals no significant differences in turkey diet between the two lineages and further reveals pollen types of many cultivated and domestic crops used by prehistoric human inhabitants, indicating a close association between humans and turkeys at Turkey Pen Ruin. Based upon these lines of evidence, both aHap1 and aHap2 most likely represent domestic birds. This research therefore supports there historically being at least two domestic mitochondrial turkey lineages in the American Southwest.