Monday, June 28, 2010

Dinosaurs for Thanksgiving dinner?

I know, I know: looking at the title of this post, you already think I'm nuts. But hang with me here a moment. We give tours of our turkey barns here at OARDC to tons of school kids and others each year. One of my most memorable stops there was with a preschool class where one observant little fellow told me they looked like dinosaurs.

Hmmmm. I'd never thought about that. But ya know what? He was kind of right!

Now my good bloggy friend Katie over at On the Banks of Squaw Creek runs a weekly feature called Turkey Tuesday. She shares great turkey recipes and tells us about life on their family farm where they raise (you guessed it): turkeys! In fact, her turkeys go through the processing plant that supplies all of the turkey to Subway west of the Mississippi. She was blogging about her turkeys a few weeks ago and mentioned that June is National Turkey Lovers Month, so I knew we needed to share the spotlight with National Dairy Month and give the turkeys a little love, too. Then Katie (she's a school teacher, can you tell?) did some research and found that in fact, my little preschool visitor was right: there IS a connection between turkeys and dinosaurs. Who would have guessed?

Well apparently the folks at National Geographic guessed: you can set your DVRs for July 7 at 5 a.m. to watch their upcoming special on the relationship between the modern turkey and the ancient dinos. Be sure to check that out for more information.

Now for some cool turkey-dino facts from National Geographic:
  • Turkeys are descended from predatory dinosaurs called theropods, which gradually became smaller in size and developed bird like features before finally evolving into the first birds.
  • The T.Rex dinosaur was actually a giant turkey - a new study of ancient proteins retrieved from a Tyrannosaurus rex fossil have confirmed that birds are the closest living relatives of dinosaurs.
  • The idea that birds evolved from dinosaurs was first introduced by legendary scientist Thomas Henry Huxley in the 1860s.
  • Feathers do not necessarily make a bird – dinosaur digs over the last decade in China have revealed several new dinosaur species that were covered in feathers. These were important in order to keep warm and attract mates.
  • The fearsome Velociraptor, a relative of the first ancient birds, was incorrectly represented in the 1993 movie Jurassic Park. New research at the American Museum of Natural History shows that the creature was covered in feathers.
  • The oldest known bird is the Archaeopteryx, meaning “ancient wing,” which roosted in the European islands of the Late Jurassic around 150 million years ago.
  • A recently discovered dinosaur named Microraptor has been helping scientists understand how flight evolved – tiny and bird like with fully developed and feather covered wings on both arms and legs, it glided in forests around 130 million years ago.
  • Dozens of new species of dinosaurs and dino-birds are emerging every year – hot spots for new finds are Argentina and China.
As we celebrate National Turkey Lover's Month, take the time to learn about these unique animals. The National Geographic tv special might be a good place to start. But take some time to get to know turkey producers, too. Visit blogs like Katie's where she shares how their turkeys are raised. Or visit a local fair where turkeys are part of the livestock exhibited by 4-H members. Those 4-H members will be happy to answer your questions and share their experiences with you.

Oh, and I think I can speak for Katie when I say go eat a turkey sub at Subway. Her family's hard work made it possible for that turkey to get from their farm gate to your plate.


  1. Great information! I was aware of this because I have to know things and watch Discovery channel all the time. What I love is that you posted it too. Anytime someone can learn something is a great time in my book.

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm now following you too! ;)

  3. GREAT post. I had a turkey tuesday lined up, but I think I'll just link up to this instead if you don't mind!

  4. I love turkey tuesday's on the bank of squaw creek. Thanks for all this information on linking turkeys to dinosaurs. Did you know that Benjamin Franklin wanted the Turkey to be the national bird (instead of the bald eagle)? Just think we could be celebrating the 4th of July with Turkeys! gobble gobble.

  5. Hey there! Just getting back from camp!! Thanks for visiting and following

  6. Thanks for the follow. Totally following you back! My children and I LOVE your blog. Science is so interesting and fun!

  7. Actually, turkeys, as well as all other birds, are not actually RELATED to dinosaurs, nor are they DESCENDED from them.

    Because they actually ARE dinosaurs! Science has now reclassified the order Aves under the dinosaur clade Theropoda. So dinosaurs never really became extinct...they fly above our heads this very day!


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