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Plump & Perky Turkeys: Home

Your Holiday Dinosaur

descendants furcula fossils caruncles saurischian


Caruncle - brightly colored growths on the throat region.  Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

Gizzard - a part of a bird's stomach that contains tiny stones.  It helps them grind up food for digestion.

Hen - a female turkey.

Poult - a baby turkey.  A chick.

Snood - the flap of skin that hangs over the turkey's beak.  Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

Tom - a male turkey.  Also known as a gobbler.

Wattle - the flap of skin under the turkey's chin.  Turns bright red when the turkey is upset or during courtship.

Scientific genus and speciesMeleagris gallopavo


Archosaurs are a group of specialized reptiles which ruled the Earth during the Age of Dinosaurs. The only archosaurs that survive today are crocodiles and birds. Birds are the only group of dinosaurs that survived the extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period, 65 million years ago. Your holiday turkey is a saurischian dinosaur, like Apatosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and Velociraptor.

Dinosaur cladogram


Turkey skeleton

Features birds share with other archosaurs:

  • air-filled skull bones (all archosaurs)
  • legs carried under body (all ornithodirans)
  • neck with S-shaped curve (all dinosaurs)
  • air-filled bones in the neck and body (all saurischians)
  • wishbone (all theropods)
  • feathers (most theropods)
  • half-moon-shaped wrist bones (all raptors)

Features unique to birds:

  • keeled sternum for attachment of flight muscles
  • fused vertebrae in the back and tail
  • calf, instead of thigh, provides most of the power for walking


Science in Context

Lexile Level 950

Source Citation

Smith, Natalie. "Dinosaur for dinner? Turkeys have some fearsome members in their family tree." SuperScience Nov.-Dec. 2013: 8+. Science in Context. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.

Dinosaur Turkey