Researchers discovered a thousand year old remains of tamed Scarlet Macaws in New Mexico

February 18th, 2016 | by LubosTomiska
Researchers discovered a thousand year old remains of tamed Scarlet Macaws in New Mexico

banner araraunaColourful tropical macaws were kept as pets by ancient Indian tribes in America much earlier than anybody expected. Researchers dug out skeletal remains of Scarlet Macaw which are, according to results of radiocarbon dating, from 900-975 AD. Bones were found in Chaco canyon, Pueblo Bonito, New Mexico. Between 9th and 12th century this place was inhabited by Anasazi Indians. We also know that Anasazis traded with other Indian tribes on long distances. The news was published by Knau Arizona Public Radio.

Anasazi Indians lived in New Mexico but also in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and in the Northeastern part of Mexico. Parrot bones have been found in their dwellings before however, up to now nobody knew who old they really are. Today, because of exact radiocarbon dating, researchers are sure that the Indians brought the parrots to USA territory earlier than it was originally suggested. This means that macaws had to be transported for more than a thousand miles. Obviously, it was worth it. Colourful parrots represented a symbol of power and wealth.



Macaws were owned by rulers

Researchers are still not sure if parrots were transported to New Mexico by Anasazis or if other Indian tribes brought the macaws and then traded them for other goods. The way of transport is also unknown. Researchers suppose that Indians had them in wicker baskets which were carried on the back. However, macaws could easily destroy such wooden obstacle and then escape. Maybe Indiands clipped their wings so they couldn’t fly. Anyway, these are just theories which will be probably never verified.

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Many remains have been also found in Wupatki and Mogollon Rim, Arizona. However, Chaco canyon in New Mexico was the centre of Anasazi empire. This whole civilization became extinct between the 12th and 15th century, the cause is unknown.


Title photo: Knau Arizona Public Radio/NPR News



  1. cb says:

    This is an example of the kind of mentality that exists with modern humans. The only scenarios we can conceive of for transporting parrots are to incapacitate the parrots. if these were pets back then, they could have been transported willingly. some modern humans bring their pet parrots with them camping and walking through the forests. back then, it would have seemed natural. but if they did need to somehow confine the birds, and metal chains were not known at the time, then we do know that thick or braided leather can be effective for long periods of time before the bird can chew through it.

  2. Ivan Sam says:

    Wow, there was no such thing as “USA” or “New Mexico” back then. Natives tribes were traveling all over the continent with many goods to trade for many hundreds of years. Villages thrived with rich culture, customs, and civility. Birds also migrated seasonally too. Colonization and Western perspectives caused borders and boundaries!

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