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15 Turkey Facts That Will Make You Sound Smart This Thanksgiving

If the words snood and wattle sound funny to you, then you are going to gobble this post right up!

Posted on November 25, 2015, at 8:16 a.m. ET

1. Male turkeys are the only ones that gobble. Fittingly, a male turkey is called a "gobbler."

2. Female turkeys are called hens.

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3. The wild turkey and the domestic turkey (which we eat), both belong to the same species, but they look different because the domestic ones descended from a different subspecies.

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The subspecies that we eat, Meleagris gallopavo gallopavo, was actually imported from Europe by early settlers in Jamestown, Virginia. This kind of turkey got to Europe in the first place because it had earlier been imported by Spanish explorers from the Aztecs.

4. The prophetic turkey wishbone you tug on after a meal is actually a skeletal feature that first evolved in early dinosaurs.

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5. A group of turkeys can be referred to as a rafter.

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6. Turkeys have a 300-degree field of vision without moving their head.

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7. That dangly appendage on a turkey's head is called a snood. That flappy bit under the chin is called a wattle or dewlap.

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8. Both the snood and the wattle can be found on males and females, but they are much more prominent in males.

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9. Female turkeys seem to prefer gobblers with longer snoods. Other males are generally subordinate to their big-snooded peers.

If you are a gobbler with a big snood, chances are you are going to win a mate and dominate in a fight. You will likely be healthier as well!
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If you are a gobbler with a big snood, chances are you are going to win a mate and dominate in a fight. You will likely be healthier as well!

One could say they get a bit ~snoody.~

10. A group of related males will band together to court females, though only one member will end up getting lucky.

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This is called "cooperative courtship," and many biologists think that it is a good way for subordinate males to pass much of their genetic information (found in a related dominant male) to future generations.

11. The wild turkey almost went extinct in the early 1900s, but their numbers are strong today.

The American wild turkey was hunted nearly to extinction by the early 1900s, but their numbers are on the rise due to extensive efforts to reintroduce the species into their former habitats.
Alex Kasprak / BuzzFeed

The American wild turkey was hunted nearly to extinction by the early 1900s, but their numbers are on the rise due to extensive efforts to reintroduce the species into their former habitats.

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12. A turkey's exposed skin changes color when it is frightened, agitated, sick, or excited.

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13. As similar as they might appear, chickens and turkeys are separated by around 30 million years of evolutionary history.

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14. Male turkeys do not do any parenting at all.

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15. And the most important of all turkey facts: Male and female turkeys poop differently. A gobbler poops in a "J" or "L" shape, while a hen prefers to leave more of a spiral dump.

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