People were keeping scarlet macaws (Ara macaws) in New Mexico in the 11th century, according to an examination of eggshells found at the Old Town Archaeological Site. The paper has been published in the journal PNAS Nexus.
Cyler Conrad and colleagues examined six eggshell fragments associated with the articular remains of a parakeet. The eggshell has been indirectly dated to the early 11th century through pre-skeletal carbon dating of the parrot. Using a non-destructive scanning electron microscope, the authors looked for evidence of embryo development inside the eggs, which could be inferred from the resorption of a layer of eggshell known as the mammary cone.
Five samples showed clear evidence of resorption, and samples included at least two separate eggs, based on established developmental ages. The presence of fertilized scarlet macaw eggs at this site strongly indicates that macaw breeding was occurring in the ancient city in the 11th century.
This is the first evidence of parrot breeding north of Paquimé, in northwestern Mexico, where parrot breeding was known to have occurred after 1275. According to the authors, the findings may help shed light on the practice of breeding and keeping parrots in the Americas. The birds are native to the rainforests of Mexico and Central America but were transported and preserved by people as far north as the desert southwest in what is now the United States as early as the 600s. Modern experts are not sure exactly why scarlet macaws were bred and moved.
Cyler Conrad et al, the scarlet macaw (Ara macao) breeding at the Mimbres archaeological site in Old Town (early 11th century AD) in southwestern New Mexico, PNAS Nexus (2023). DOI: 10.1093/pnasnexus/pgad138
the quote: Study finds evidence of ancient reproduction of scarlet macaws (2023, June 14) Retrieved June 14, 2023 from https://phys.org/news/2023-06-evidence-ancient-scarlet-macaws.html
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