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March 2, 2018
Q. “How an unassuming bird changed the world as we know it,” read the Science magazine heading. What is the bird, and how did it get this reputation?
A. According to Andrew Lawler's book, “Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?,” as reviewed by Greger Larson, “chickens are everywhere and are inextricably linked to the emergence and maintenance of human civilization.” Largely descended from the red jungle fowl, domestic chickens number 20 billion worldwide, “more than the combined total of cats, dogs, pigs, cows and rats.” There are at least three chickens for every human, and “Americans now consume four times as much chicken as they did 60 years ago,” with current harvesting of the birds “only 47 days after birth — 23 days earlier than chickens raised in 1950 and 2.6 pounds heavier.”
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