A couple weeks ago, my daughter asked why the animal is called a turkey and if it had anything to do with the country. I, naturally, said, “I don’t think so . . . I’ll look it up.”

Look it up I did–and quickly discovered that I was quite wrong with that “I don’t think so.”

So historically, there are two different birds identified as both guinea fowl and turkey, both from the mid-1500s. The guinea fowl was introduced to Europe from Madagascar via Turkey; the second, the larger North American bird, was domesticated by the Atzecs, introduced to Spain by the conquistadors, and then spread to wider Europe. The two animals were mistakenly thought to be related, and so both were called by both names.

Eventually they realized they were not related . . . and they mistakenly kept the name turkey for the one from North America rather than the one from Africa!

Ever wonder what they call the animal in Turkey? Hindi, which literally means “India”–based on the common-at-the-time misconception that the new world was India.

Poor mis-named critter. 😉 Gobble, gobble!

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