Scientists have discovered the mother of all chickens. The ancestor of every domestic hen is a sub-species of jungle-fowl that lives in the forests of South East Asia.
Genetic analysis of farm chickens throughout the world has found that their closest living relative is the red jungle-fowl of Thailand, a finding that pushes back the point of domestication by several thousand years.
The most popular victim of the British Sunday lunch owes is existence to early farmers who lived more than 8,000 years ago in the region that is now Vietnam and Thailand.
It was here that the red jungle-fowl was domesticated for the first and only time in early human history, Japanese researchers report today in the journal The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
They found that genetic material that is inherited only through the maternal line was almost identical for domestic chickens and a sub-species of the red jungle-fowl called Gallus gallus gallus.
It was originally thought that the domestic chicken came from the Indus valley about 4,000 years ago. …