Turkey DNA and Mesa Verde

For Thanksgiving – Science describes how mitochondrial DNA testing of wild turkeys is apparently being used to suggest what might have happened to the ancient Anasazi people.  “The researchers compared the genetic material from Mesa Verde turkeys to turkeys found in the northern Rio Grande region before and after the Ancestral Puebloans disappeared.” And “Before 1280, the two turkey populations were unrelated in the maternal line, the team found. But afterward, the northern Rio Grande turkeys carried Mesa Verde “haplogroups”—clusters of genes inherited together as a group—indicating they were descended at least in part from the Ancestral Puebloans’ stock.”

So – “The most likely explanation, the researchers argue in PLOS ONE, is that the Ancestral Puebloans left Mesa Verde around 1280 and brought their turkeys with them. This transplanted line of turkeys then replaced those that lived in northern Rio Grande before their arrival.”  Another researcher, though, calls the findings “a little weak.”

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