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Turkey Wishbone or Theropod Dinosaur Wishbone?


November 25, 2015 

By: Thomas L. Adams, Ph. D. Curator of Paleontology and Geology                      

What is the link between the wishbone commonly found in the turkey at your Thanksgiving feast and Dinosaurs? 

As we gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving, many of us will face off in the annual tradition to break the turkey’s wishbone.
This Y-shaped bone is located in front of the turkey’s shoulders and was formed by the fusion of two separate bones called the clavicles, unlike humans who have unfused clavicles, also know as collar bones. But did you know that this anatomical structure thought by many to be unique to birds is also found in some dinosaurs. Specifically, those dinosaurs are known as theropods.

They were carnivorous dinosaurs which stood upright and walked on two legs. This group includes the legendary Tyrannosaurus rex and the mighty Acrocanthosaurus, which will soon be a part of the New Witte Dinosaur Gallery, opening in the spring of 2017. The wishbone was an ancient feature among theropod dinosaurs, going back more than 200 million years, linking your Thanksgiving feast with some of the most spectacular animals to have ever walked the Earth.