Class blog for sharing and commenting on current events in biology.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Aidan Flannery - In Hawaii, Chickens Gone Wild

On the island Kauai, in Hawaii, chickens have gone wild, and overrun the island. The chickens on the island are so diverse, and different, and this caught the eye of one biologist Dr. Gering of Michigan State University. Gearing began to study these free range chickens, and untangle their very intricate genetic codes. His study of the genetic history could give us a look into how humans first domesticated wild animals at one time. Modern breeds of chickens are bigger versions of the Red Junglefowl, which is a southeast Asian cousin of pheasants. Leif Andersson, a medical biochemist sequenced the genomes of eight breeds of farm chickens. Andersson wanted to answer the question of, “Which are the most striking changes that have taken place during chicken domestication?” One of the discoveries that came out was the discovery of all the breeds having the same mutated form of a gene that is a receptor of the thyroid gland. This mutation was not found everywhere though. They figured this out by finding bones that dated back two thousand years ago, and the mutation was not found. Scientists are still figuring out how this changed the bird, and Andersson believes that this is partly why chickens can lay eggs whenever instead of in a certain season. Scientists believe that the reason the chickens are everywhere is because of two hurricanes that hit the Island in 1982, and 1992.

The research of the breeds of chickens, and their diversity, and change overtime can help us understand DNA more, and this research can also give us an in depth look on the domestication of animals because the domestication process is vital to so many people that own farms, and other businesses. Dr. Gering said, “There is still surprisingly a large amount that we don’t know about the domestication process that made this bird so valuable to us.” The domestication of the chicken and its domestication process is actually surprisingly important to us, because once again people rely on chicken for food, and for business. Along with the research of the DNA and mutations that come along with the chicken, they were able to research where the chicken came from and how it became so popular and resourceful in our world today.

I believe this article gave me a lot more knowledge than I had known before about the chicken species, and where it came from, and how it has changed over a long period of time. I think that the article could have had more about the research, and how it affects the people, and less about where the chicken came from. Overall I believe that this article was a great read and gave me some understanding about mutations, and DNA, and how intricate DNA is. I thought that the article was interesting because it was about chickens, and we don't normally read about chickens.

Chang, Kenneth. "In Hawaii, Chickens Gone Wild." New York Times. New York Times, 6 Apr. 2015. Web. 6 Apr. 2015


  1. My favorite parts of Aidan's current event was how he gives the reasons for why there are so many chickens in Hawaii, such as the two hurricanes that hit the island recently. Also, he does a great job saying how we can figure out how we first domesticated wild animals, and lastly, how the research done doesn't only help us with discovering the breeds and diversity of chicken. but also with discovering the past domestication of animals. From reading this current event, I learned that there is a great variety in the species of chicken in Hawaii, and that modern breed chickens are bigger versions of the Red Junglefowl. The review could have been even better if it was described how researching chickens could help us understand DNA more.

  2. Aidan did a great job picking his article. It was very fun to read and it had a good scientific background. It was well chosen. He also did a good job of explaining the article. It had some complex science to it and he did a great job explaining it. He also did a very good job of connecting it to our lives, which was hard to do for this article.

    I learned that simple things that happen such as chickens over populating in a region have a more scientific explanation than you would think.

    Aidan did an amazing job and I can’t think of anything he could do better.