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June 28, 2020 - Science AAAS

The chicken first crossed the road in Southeast Asia, 'landmark' gene study finds

The chicken first crossed the road in Southeast Asia, 'landmark' gene study finds
Red Jungle Fowl AncestorFile Photo / © Photabulous!

It is the world’s most common farm animal as well as humanity’s largest single source of animal protein. Some 24 billion strong, it outnumbers all other birds by an order of magnitude. Yet for 2 centuries, biologists have struggled to explain how the chicken became the chicken.

Now, the first extensive study of the bird’s full genome concludes that people in northern Southeast Asia or southern China domesticated a colorful pheasant sometime after about 7500 B.C.E. Migrants and traders then carried the bird across Asia and on to every continent except Antarctica.

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