Chickens are like people

By Razib Khan | May 20, 2010 4:17 am

In that their demographic history is complicated. The Origin and Genetic Variation of Domestic Chickens with Special Reference to Junglefowls Gallus g. gallus and G. varius:

… domestic chickens diverged from red junglefowl 58,000±16,000 years ago, well before the archeological dating of domestication, and that their common ancestor in turn diverged from green junglefowl 3.6 million years ago. Several shared haplotypes nonetheless found between green junglefowl and chickens are attributed to recent unidirectional introgression of chickens into green junglefowl. Shared haplotypes are more frequently found between red junglefowl and chickens, which are attributed to both introgression and ancestral polymorphisms. Within each chicken breed, there is an excess of homozygosity, but there is no significant reduction in the nucleotide diversity. Phenotypic modifications of chicken breeds as a result of artificial selection appear to stem from ancestral polymorphisms at a limited number of genetic loci.

I wonder if domesticates in particular exhibit these more complex reticulated patterns in their phylogenies because they spread along human trade routes.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Genetics, Genomics
MORE ABOUT: Genetics, phylogenetics
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  • dave chamberlin

    I’ll bet nobody else who reads GNXP has lived amounst chickens. Well I have, not that it is anything to brag about. As long as you can keep the dag burned varmits in them thar woods away from them they are an incredible source of food. Their favorite food is our garbage. Each hen produces an egg a day. It is an incredible payoff to an easy and delicious meal a day to just keep three of the cluckers alive and well fed. It wouldn’t suprise me a bit if chicken domestication has a long curve extending way back past 10,000 years ago, much like man’s best friend.

  • gcochran

    “Chickens are like people”

    Other way round.

  • dave chamberlin

    One more chicken fact and what made them so important in early agricultural history. Free range chickens do one thing all day long, they search the ground for anything that moves and promptly eat it. They were DDT on two legs. Every early farm had free range chickens roaming about during the day to keep the parasitic and disease bearing insect population under control. It is easy to imagine a gradual domestication proccess much like has been supposed with the dog. Don’t kill that wild bird, he is eating ticks, lice and mosquitos. Don’t kill that wild dog, he alerts us every time a stranger or large carnivore approaches.


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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at


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