10 fantastic facts about the turkey | living science

gobble up, gobble up

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Turkey sandwiches are eaten year-round, but during Thanksgiving, the bearded bird is the main attraction at the table. But there’s more to turkeys than meets the eye. Like all birds, the turkey (meleagris gallopavo) is a living dinosaur, which means it is related to tyrannosaurus rex. The official bird of Thanksgiving can sport multiple wattles and has an iridescent cousin known as the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata) that lives in the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico, northern Belize, and northern Guatemala.

LiveWordsKick.com takes a look at the rich biology, history, and folklore behind the staple of the harvest celebration. We hope you gobble up some turkey science with your holiday meal.

1. They wear a beard

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Has the centerpiece of many a Thanksgiving table ever sported a beard? Kind of. The hair-like bristles that grow from the breast of male turkeys (or gobblers) and some chickens are actually specialized feathers called mesophylloplumes that grow from a single follicle. They can be long, with some beards touching the ground, although feeding tends to wear down the tips, according to the Pennsylvania Game Commission.

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