turkey - Meleagris gallopavo
Wild turkeys were in serious decline a hundred years
ago. Now, thanks to careful management and protection
of their forest habitat, they range across nearly half
of the United States.
(Click here for
holiday foods enjoyed throughout North America started
out as wild plants and animals. Archaeologists at this
Museum have tracked down the indigenous ancestors of
these foods and the routes they followed to our tables.
explorers brought back to Europe turkeys
that had been domesticated in Mexico. Later, the colonists
took these birds to North America, where they crossbred
with their wild cousins to produce the domestic turkeys
you eat today.
people domesticated squash from wild
gourds—acorn and summer squash in eastern North
America, and pumpkins in Mexico.
wild ancestor of modern corn, originated
in southern Mexico (where it still grows) and spread
across the Americas.
Ozark wild gourds
Cucurbita pepo ssp. ovifera var. ozarkana
These small brown gourds are modern specimens of the
wild ancestor of acorn and summer squash.
Corn kernels and cobs
Zea mays ssp. mays
Tularosa Cave, New Mexico, A.D. 1000
Corn is a grass. But unlike most grasses, early corn
like this could reproduce only if humans stripped the
kernels (or seeds) from the cob and planted them.