It does not seem to have been commonly known till the middle of the 16th century, when John Caius sent a description and figure, with the name Gallus Mauritanus, to Gesner, who published both in his Paralipomena in 1555, and in the same year Belon also gave a notice and woodcut under the name of Poulle de la Guinee; but while the former authors properly referred their bird to the ancient Meleagris, the latter confounded the Meleagris and the turkey.
It has been suggested with some appearance of probability that the Norfolk breed may be descended from the northern form, Meleagris gallopavo or americana, while the Cambridge breed may spring from the southern form, the M.
The ordinary guinea fowl of the poultry-yard (see also Poultry And Poultry-Farming) is the Numida meleagris of ornithologists.
The genus Meleagris is considered to enter into the family Phasianidae, in which it forms a subfamily Meleagrinae, peculiar to North and Central America.
Cap. 2) distinguishes the Meleagris from the Gallina Africana or Numidica, the latter having, he says, a red wattle (palea, a reading obviously preferable to galea), while it was blue in the former.
This would look as if the Meleagris had sprung from what is now called Numida ptilorhyncha, while the Gallina Africana originated in the N.
The following groups may be mentioned as characteristic and typically American, and, since we consider them as comparatively recent immigrants into the Neotropical region, as originally peculiar to the Nearctic area: Mniotiltidae, Vireonidae, Icteridae, Meleagris and various Tetraoninae.