Chicken part of the religious fowl play
New research has found that Christianity might have bought us the modern chicken.
According to Radio New Zealand Oxford University boffins found that traits such as reduced aggression, faster egg-laying and an ability to live near other birds emerged in chickens in about 1,000AD.
According to the finding which appear in the “Molecular Biology and Evolution” journal the evolution may have been strongly influenced by the impact of Christian beliefs on what people ate, they suggest.
The Middle Ages was a time when the Church enforced fasting and the exclusion of four legged animals from menus. However, the consumption of chickens and eggs was allowed during fasts.
This was helped by urbanisation which may have helped drive the evolution of modern domesticated chickens.
Chickens were domesticated from Asian jungle fowl around 6,000 years ago. But the new study, which combined DNA data from archaeological chicken bones with statistical modelling, showed that some of the most important features of the present-day chicken arose more recently.
Oxford University found they originated in the high Middle Ages during a time of soaring demand for poultry.
IT was found by looking at the THSR gene that determines levels of aggression. Natural selection favoured chickens with THSR variants that helped them cope with living close to one another, the study found.
A thousand years ago just 40pc of the chickens studied had this gene, which is present in all modern domesticated chickens.
THSR variants also led to faster egg laying and a reduced fear of humans.
This will be news to pagans who think that Christianity never bought them much good, without them we would not have KFC or omlettes. Of course Vegan pagans will still see the religion in a bad light, but they tend to see most things in a bad light.