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Seniors “gobble up” some Thanksgiving fun with turkey dissection

Turkey dissection student

Heatly High School seniors found a unique way to celebrate Thanksgiving, while also incorporating their recent lessons on evolution: dissecting a turkey. 

Over the last few weeks, students in Haylie Marquardt’s Zoology class have been studying phylogeny which is “the history of the evolution of a species or group.” Modern birds, such as turkeys, are in the clade “Dinosauria,” which means that they have a shared common ancestor with dinosaurs. 

The purpose of dissecting the turkey was to examine the internal/external structures of the bird and compare them to dinosaurs to determine which structures both species had in common. In addition, students analyzed how the biological makeup of the turkey had evolved over time. 

One commonality between dinosaurs and turkeys is the furcula or “wish bone.” Theropod dinosaurs (meaning “beast-footed”), such as a T-rex, had a furcula, proving that turkeys are distantly related to dinosaurs. Students in Ms. Marquardt’s class were able to find the furcula inside the turkey and extract it, as well as view how the turkey furcula was similar to a dinosaur’s furcula.

With evidence of a shared homologous structure between turkeys and dinosaurs, it can be concluded that the turkey is a “modern-day dinosaur.”

Turkey dissection students
Turkey dissection students