Early Native Americans Imported Exotic Parrots, DNA Reveals
The discovery suggests that scarlet macaws were being bred for trade centuries earlier than previously thought.
For more than two millennia, indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica have traded macaws and included their feathers in rituals. The birds held immense symbolic value and represented sun gods in both Maya and Aztec culture.
And for more than a thousand years, these birds were traded north into what is now the southwestern United States in exchange for turquoise. The ancient Pueblo great houses of Chaco Canyon (in what's now New Mexico) started importing scarlet macaws from farther south around 900 A.D., using the birds as status symbols and markers of political status. (Find out more about Chaco Canyon.)
But who was supplying Chaco Canyon with macaws, and how? To find out, a team led by Richard George, a Ph.D. student