Origin of the Chicken

on March 8, 2008

LiveScience: “The Real Question: Where Did the Chicken Come From?” Whether it’s the answer to “which came first: the chicken or the egg?” or the corollary answer to that classic riddle “why did the chicken cross the road?” Darwin’s answer to the origin of the chicken was wrong.

Of course, if you’re a creationist, you already knew that! The news this week, however, is that even evolutionists can’t accept Darwin’s explanation that the domestic chicken descended from red jungle fowl. A study at Sweden’s Uppsala University, published this week in the online edition of PLoS Genetics, concludes that the wild origins of the chicken are not so straightforward.

The wild origins of the chicken are not so straightforward.

By mapping the genes that are responsible for the yellow legs of most domesticated chickens, the research team found that the genetic heredity for the legs came from the gray jungle fowl rather than the red. So although the red jungle fowl contributed “most of the genes,” according to Uppsala University doctoral student Jonas Eriksson, the gray contributed some as well. The team concludes the gray jungle fowl was likely crossed with a chicken early in its domestication, perhaps because bright yellow legs were seen as signs of health or fertility.

Greger Larson, a researcher affiliated with Uppsala University and Durham University in England, added, “What’s ironic is that Darwin thought that more than one wild species had contributed to the development of the dog, but that the chicken came from only one wild species, the red jungle fowl. Now it turns out that it’s just the opposite way around.”

The take-away for creationists isn’t simply that “DARWIN WAS WRONG!” with a footnote quietly adding “wrong about chickens”; in fact, the point here is that the origin of domesticated animals (as with all animals) can be explained without reference to evolution. Genesis shows us that since early in man’s history, he has domesticated animals—think, for instance, of Abel’s ovine offering in Genesis 4. When humans artificially select animals to breed based on ideal traits, the new genetic combinations result in “evolution” in the strict sense that a population’s gene frequencies are changing. In fact, in an evolutionary sense, a new population that becomes isolated is on its way to becoming a new species, even if it could interbreed with members of other species (i.e., its undomesticated kin).

Different kinds (baramin) of creatures were made to produce after their kind.

Looking through the creation lens, however, we start with the understanding that different kinds (baramin) of creatures were made to produce after their kind. These kinds, broader than modern-day species or genera, contain much variation but nonetheless retain their identity even when “evolving” in evolutionists’ eyes. That is, God created a certain fowl kind that contained the genetic diversity for all of today’s species. As these groups were isolated and natural selection ran its course (after the Curse), the kinds subdivided into what we think of as the different genera and species that we see today. Yet two things remind us of the kinds that were originally created. First, these species and genera (and even members of different families, sometimes) can often interbreed successfully—the original criteria for what made a species. Second, and more importantly, we never see members from one kind “evolving” into a new kind. That is, we may see one dog variety, through natural and artificial selection, lose and gain different canine traits; what we don’t see is a dog lineage evolving into a completely different kind. That would require an increase in genetic information, something that has never been observed and is simply presumed to have happened by those who believe all life originated from primordial clay.

A lot to learn from a simple study about chicken domestication? Perhaps, but the truth is, everywhere evolutionists look they see the hand of evolution, when in fact we should be reminded that the creation around us—and even the Curse that has affected it—is described and explained in Genesis.


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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.