Californian turkey

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California turkey
Temporal range: Pleistocene - Early Holocene
Gymnogyps amplus skeleton.jpg
Californian turkey (lower left) and other extinct birds from the La Brea Tar Pits
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Meleagris
M. californica
Binomial name
Meleagris californica
(Miller, 1909)

The Californian turkey (Meleagris californica) is an extinct species of turkey indigenous to the Pleistocene and early Holocene of California. It has been estimated that the Californian turkey went extinct about 10,000 years ago.[1]


Fossil evidence indicates that the Californian turkey was stockier than the wild turkey of the eastern United States, with a shorter, wider beak, but was largely similar otherwise. It is a very common fossil in the La Brea tar pits.[2]:5

Human hunting has been suggested as contributing to the extinction of this species, based on evidence of turkey hunting elsewhere in North America.[2]:52

This species was originally described as a type of peacock, by Miller in 1909, and placed in the genus Pavo with that bird.[2]:3 Years later he reclassified it as an intermediate between the peacock and the ocellated turkey. But it eventually was seen as a close relative of modern living turkeys.


"The unquestionable geographic range of M. californica extended from Orange County in the south (Imperial Highway), through Los Angeles County (Rancho La Brea and probable also Workman and Alhambra Streets), to Santa Barbara County in the north (Carpinteria)."[2]:44


  1. ^ California Department of Fish and Game. Wild Turkey Guide 2005.
  2. ^ a b c d Bocheński, Zbigniew M.; Campbell, Kenneth E. Jr. (2006-11-10). "The Extinct California Turkey, Meleagris californica, from Rancho La Brea: Comparative Osteology and Systematics". Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (509). eISSN 0459-8113. S2CID 33771032.