The unexpected story of human domestication of chickens

– Kemeo /

Chickens domesticated by humans later than we thought? Anyway, that’s what a new study suggests. explanations.

Chicken is important to our societies

A recent study suggests that chickens may have been domesticated thousands of years later than we thought. It is also possible that they were originally considered exotic animals or animals revered by the culture, rather than as food. The study further suggests that rice may have played a key role in this process.

Chicken is a species indigenous to Southeast Asia. For more than 2,000 years, they have played an essential role in our societies. It is one of the main species cultivated for food. However, we still do not know when and how their domestication began.

Genomic studies have shown that chickens were domesticated about 7,000 to 8,000 or even 10,000 years ago in China, Southeast Asia or India. They would have arrived in Europe nearly 7,000 years ago.

– Imageman /

The first technical references to chickens in Europe

Chickens were first depicted in European art on Corinthian pottery from the 7th century BC, only 3,700 years ago. In fact, there are many indications in favor of the early domestication theory. Clues were collected in 2020 while analyzing 863 chickens from around the world. The result: Today’s domesticated chickens come from a single domestication event and mate with other domestic species to form genetically distinct groups.

However, two other studies, detailed by ZME Science Posted in Antiquity And the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he mentioned a completely different theory. In the first study, researchers used radiocarbon dating and found that 23 chicken bones from Eurasia and Africa were newer than previously thought. “This is the first time that radiocarbon dating at this scale has been used to determine the importance of chickens in primitive societies. Our results demonstrate the need to directly date the first proposed samples, as this gives us the clearest picture yet of our early interactions with chickens.”Dr Julia Best, a fellow at Cardiff University and one of the study’s authors explained.

The second study relied on a reassessment of chicken bones found in archaeological sites. “This comprehensive assessment of chickens first shows how flawed our understanding of when and where chickens were domesticated. Most exciting, we show how the arrival of dry rice farming has been a catalyst for both the process of chicken domestication and its global spread.”Professor Greger Larson, a member of the University of Oxford and one of the study authors, detailed.

– C.Lotongkum /

Chicken of the day

Dr. Ophélie Lebrasseur, a CNRS member who worked on this second study, added: “The fact that chickens are so ubiquitous and popular today, yet domesticated relatively recently, is surprising. Our research highlights the importance of sound orthopedic comparisons, safe stratigraphic dating, and placing early discoveries in their larger cultural and ecological context.”

Today, the chicken is the most common bird on Earth. However, this is not good for them. And indeed most of them do not live more than a year and slaughter more than 50 billion each year for consumption, knowing that this does not count the slaughter of chicks because the industry considers them useless from the bridge. In addition, some sources estimate that 7 billion male chicks were culled. A terrible problem for species that were once culturally revered.

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