Wednesday, 4 July 2012
The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a domesticated fowl, a subspecies of the Red Junglefowl. As one of the most common and widespread domestic animals, and with a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other species of bird. Humans keep chickens primarily as a source of food, consuming both their meat and their eggs. The chicken's "cultural and culinary dominance" could be considered amazing to some in view of its believed domestic origin and purpose and it has "inspired contributions to culture, art, cuisine, science and religion" from antiquity to the present. The traditional poultry farming view of the domestication of the chicken is stated in Encyclopædia Britannica (2007): "Humans first domesticated chickens of Indian origin for the purpose of cockfighting in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Very little formal attention was given to egg or meat production... " Recent genetic studies have pointed to multiple maternal origins in Southeast, East, and South Asia, but with the clade found in the Americas, Europe, the Middle East and Africa originating in the Indian subcontinent. From India the domesticated fowl made its way to the Persianized kingdom of Lydia in western Asia Minor, and domestic fowl were imported to Greece by the fifth century BC. Fowl had been known in Egypt since the 18th Dynasty, with the "bird that gives birth every day" having come to Egypt from the land between Syria and Shinar, Babylonia, according to the annals of Tutmose III.