Chicken Fossils: Uncovering the Astonishing Extent of Human Appetite
When aliens (if they exist) or our distant descendants sift through the sediment layers 500,000 years later to decipher Earth’s past, they will find evidence of the drastic changes that upended life half a million years ago.
The proof is chicken bones. This is the conclusion of the scientists whose discoveries are presented as evidence that the rapid expansion of human appetite and activity has radically altered natural systems to the point of pushing the earth into a new geological epoch called the Anthropocene, or “age of men.”
And in the mud and rocks, there will be further evidence of a global disruption in the mid-20th century: the sudden release of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases. radioactive waste from nuclear bomb tests; microplastics are ubiquitous; And the distribution of various types of gases.
But chicken bones may be among the most revealing finds, telling the story in multiple ways.
“Modern meat chickens are impossible to identify in comparison to their ancestors or their wild counterparts. Body size, skeletal shape, bone chemistry and genetics are all different,” said Carys Bennett, geologist and lead author of the 2017 study by the Royal Open Science Society.
In other words, its very existence testifies to the ability of mankind to penetrate nature and interfere with natural processes.
Modern broilers originate from the jungles of Southeast Asia, where their ancestor, the red junglefowl, was first domesticated about 8,000 years ago.
This species has long been prized for its meat and eggs, but it wasn’t until after World War II that it evolved into a short-lived creature found in supermarkets around the world.
“Usually evolution takes millions of years, but here it only took decades to create a new form of animal,” said Jan Zalasiewicz, emeritus professor of paleobiology at the University of Leicester.
Last year, the official Anthropocene Working Group, which he chaired for more than a decade, determined that the Holocene, which began 11,700 years ago with the end of the last ice age, gave way to the beginning of the Anthropocene in the mid-20th century.
Previously, Crawford Lake near Toronto, Canada was considered the place on Earth that best exemplifies this transformation.
Another piece of evidence is the ubiquitous presence of broilers: almost everywhere on Earth there will also be abundant remnants of our species’ favorite animal source of protein.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are approximately 33 billion flightless birds in the world today at any given time.
A domesticated (tamed) chicken has more than three times the biomass of all wild bird species combined.
At least 25 million people are executed every day. And while many societies avoid eating beef or pork, how many cultures in the world don’t have chicken on their menus?
Source: Science Alert