Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. When the Pilgrims ate turkey on that first Thanksgiving nearly four centuries ago, it was not a novel New World experience. Although wild turkeys were said to be plentiful in Massachusetts at the time, the Pilgrims might also have brought turkeys with them from England. The wild turkey is native to eastern North America with populations extending along the Gulf Coast and well into Mexico. The Indians of Mexico had domesticated turkeys and used them not as a source of meat, but as a source of bronze-colored feathers from which they made capes for their leaders. When Spanish explorers visited the Indians in the 1500s, they saw the turkey as a source of meat, and took a few of the birds back to Europe in about 1519, a century before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Because at first there were few turkeys in Europe, they were only killed on special occasions; thus, turkeys became associated with holiday feasts.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.