Nebraska Game and Parks Commission



Date of this Version



Published by Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, circa 1980


Fossilized remains indicate that prehistoric turkeys roamed the eastern and southwestern United States. Five different prehistoric turkeys have been described that lived during the Pleistocene period some 15,000 to 50,000 years ago.

While early man, the paleo-Indians, preyed primarily upon larger animals for food and fiber, birds were also preyed upon, as evidenced by artifacts of later man. The wild turkey is believed to have played important roles in the cultures of pre-Columbian Indians, especially in Mexico and the southwestern United States. Historical records and archeological findings indicate that extensive domestication of the wild turkey existed throughout the southwestern United States and in Mexico. Although kept for food, turkeys were raised principally for feathers, to adorn garments and fletch arrows.