General, Research, Technology

When did hens become pets?

Few people thought about and realized this, butChickens are the most numerous and widespread poultry. It is believed that today their number is estimated at 24 billion individuals. This is not surprising, because hens are bred for eggs, meat, fluff and feathers. They are the main source of protein for people and, without exaggeration, they are the most useful pets in terms of the production of ingredients of various dishes. But when and where did people decide to domesticate them? After all, hens, like all existing domestic animals today, were wild.

This is not news, but domestic hens were once wild.

Domestication of animals is also known by the word domestication.

Chicken ancestor

This question worried scientists from the very oldtimes, but recently the approximate date of domestication of chickens has finally become known. In the 19th century, naturalist Charles Darwin suggested that the ancestors of the hens we know today are the banker jungle hens (Gallus gallus). And all because these two species are very similar and, when crossed, give healthy offspring without any deviations in development. If there was no kinship between them, the chickens would be born at least unhealthy.

It looks like a banking jungle chicken

Scientists are almost certain that poultrydescended from birds living in the jungle. But it was very difficult to determine exactly where the hens were domesticated. The fact is that banker hens have been living in different places of our planet from Indonesia to Pakistan since very ancient times. But over time, new technologies appeared and scientists learned to compare animal DNA samples - molecules, inside of which are stored instructions on which living organisms develop.

See also: Is a dog a man’s best friend, or is he just pretending to be?

Genetic research

Comparing DNA of different types of hens overFor many years, the Chinese researcher Jianlin Han was engaged. He collected genetic samples of domestic and wild hens from different regions of Asia and Africa. In total, he collected 850 DNA samples and began to compare them. The results of his scientific work were published in the scientific journal Cell Research.

In Russia, there are about 100 breeds of chickens

Comparison of genetic data showed thatThe closest relatives of living domestic hens are the species Gallus gallus spadiceus. They live in the forests of Thailand and southwestern China. Judging by the genetic data, the separation of hens into wild and domestic ones occurred about 7,500 years ago. There is also evidence that domestic chickens subsequently interbred with wild ones, which led to the emergence of new species.

Do you know what arose earlier: an egg or a chicken?

Origin of chicken

In the end it turned out that the hens weredomesticated about 7,500 years ago, in China. However, this is averaged data, because the study showed very vague results - to be more precise, domestication occurred somewhere between 6,200 and 12,800 years ago. But the fact that domestic hens appeared so long ago, scientists believe with difficulty. And all because even rice began to be grown 9,000 years ago. So the assumption that domestic hens arose 7,500 years ago sounds more believable.

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Today there are a lot ofvarieties of chickens that differ in color and features of breeding. There are chickens that do not carry white and brown eggs, but green and blue. For example, colored eggs carry hens of the Araucan species. These birds were discovered in one of the American tribes, in whose honor they got their name. They have an unusual appearance with lush "whiskers" and, rather, relate to decorative species. You don’t get enough of their eggs, because they are small and only 170-180 of them appear in a year.

This is the look of Araucan chicken

Now we roughly know who the ancestors of the householdChickens are wild birds. But from whom did the hens that live in the forests come from? I wrote about this in a separate material - their ancestor lived about 66 million years ago, during the time of the dinosaurs. I think this is a very interesting topic to study, so I recommend reading now!