Photographed by Bette Jackson
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Hi, I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson, out with the wild things. The name of our wild turkey is a consequence of confusion over the origin of these big birds, and our bird isn't the first to have the name 'turkey'. The first bird to be called a 'turkey' was the Guinea fowl, an African bird that was domesticated and eventually made its way to England through trade routes that pass through Turkey. Because the birds seem to have originated in Turkey, they were called 'Turkey fowl', a name that was later shortened to 'turkey'. When English ships began direct trade with Africa, and they imported these same birds from the African country of Guinea, the bird once known as 'turkey' became better known as the 'Guinea fowl'. The English may also have thought the American turkey had come from Turkey, or perhaps the name 'turkey' had become a generic name for any large farmyard bird. At any rate, by 1600, the transition was complete: the birds from Africa were known as 'Guinea fowl' and those birds that had come from the Aztecs of Mexico were known as 'turkeys'.'With the Wild Things' is produced at the Whitaker Center in the College of Arts and Sciences at Florida Gulf Coast University. For the 'The Wild Things', I'm Dr. Jerry Jackson.