In 2020, a study of 863 living chickens’ genomes confirmed that the jungle fowl Gallus gallus spaedicus subspecies was the ancestor of living chickens; chickens share more of their DNA with that subspecies than other types of jungle fowl.
They found the oldest bones of likely chickens came from a site called Ban Non Wat in central Thailand, where farmers grew rice 3250 to 3650 years ago
Chickens appeared about 3000 years ago in northern China and India, the team found, and about 2800 years ago in the Middle East and Northeast Africa. The studies finding earlier chickens were flawed, the team argues, because either the fossils were not chickens or the dates were inaccurate.
To find out when chickens first entered Europe, members of the team directly re-dated bones from 23 of the proposed earliest chickens in Europe and Asia. The first chickens in Europe were found in an Etruscan site in Italy 2800 years ago, the team reports in Antiquity today.
Chickens don’t feature in the Old Testament,” says the study’s lead author Naomi Sykes, an archaeologist at the University of Exeter. “They burst onto the scene in the New Testament.”
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