The ancient Indians were the breeders of macaw parrots

The ancient Indians were the breeders of macaw parrots

People bred macaws in Mexico before the arrival of Europeans on the continent, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Indians have for centuries bred in captivity are descendants of a few birds brought from afar.

Scarlet macaw (Ara macao cyanoptera) was important to the ancient cultures of Mexico. Hats, decorated with feathers Ara was marks of high status among the Maya, the Indians depicted Ara on ceramics and frescoes, carved on stone slabs, and the metaphorical social markers feathers macaws still occur in Amazonian Indians which belonged to the Bororo.

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Archaeologists have found hundreds of skeletons of Ara during excavations in the southwest United States and Northwest Mexico, a thousand kilometers from their habitats. The territory of Mexico from South America brought cacao, copper bells, marine shells, but the freight of adult birds or eggs at such distances is very difficult. The authors of the new article suggested that there were centres of breeding macaws in Mexico itself.

Douglas Kennett (Douglas J. Kennett) from Pennsylvania State University and his colleagues examined samples of mitochondrial DNA from 17 ancient skeletons Ara from Chaco canyon and in the area of new Mexico. Using radiocarbon Dating, scientists have determined the age of the skeletons, which was from 900 to 1200 years BC. The authors obtained from bone tissues of the complete mitochondrial sequence for Ara from five different places. Genetic diversity was low, all samples belonged to one haplogroup — Haplo6.

The observed small genetic diversity is unlikely to be associated with a random sample of birds brought from the habitats, as was found haplogroup is rare (one of the 28 common haplogroups) and only wild macaw in southern Mexico and Guatemala, and migratory way of life excludes the existence of isolated populations of parrots. Rather, these Ara were descendants of a small number of birds which the inhabitants are bred in captivity for centuries.

This is the first evidence of breeding macaws in captivity until 1250-1450 years, when the center of breeding was Paquime, located on the North-West of Chaco canyon.

These are the earliest evidence of breeding parrots in captivity, but other animals the Indians have been bred for a long time. For example, the Maya bred pet dogs, sold them and used in rituals.