When it comes to the debate about which animal on terra firma is the most awesome and capable of snapping necks and cashing checks, few people ever give consideration to the animal that’s also the most delicious: the humble chicken. We’re going to try and fix that with this list of 10 reasons gallus gallus domesticus probably deserves, at the very least, marginally more respect that it gets now.
10. Farmers Made Them Wear Sunglasses in the ’50s
Sunglasses are the universal pop culture shorthand for “cool,” with it being generally accepted that the more awesome you are, the more people are willing to overlook you wearing them in places they’re not necessary. With that in mind, consider that fact that in the ’50s, millions of domestic chickens wore sunglasses indoors, at night, while sleeping.
While the image of millions of chickens wearing tiny, custom-made sunglasses is certainly an amazing one, you’re probably curious about why, right? Well, chickens are naturally aggressive creatures and it appears to be hard-coded into their DNA to attack anything covered in blood on sight, something we’ll explain in further detail in a later entry. Since this was before the days of battery farming, farmers decided that the best way to stop chickens from seeing blood was to outfit them all with tiny red-tinted sunglasses that they had to wear at all times.
In other words, farmers in the ’50s made every chicken they owned wear ruby colored sunglasses, just like Cyclops from the X-Men, to stop them from pecking each other to death. How metal is that?
Hey, speaking of metal…
9. They Directly Inspired One of the Greatest Guitarists of All-Time
Buckethead is a guitarist we’re guessing few people reading this are familiar with, unless you played Guitar Hero II, in which case you might know him as the guy who wrote the hardest song in the entire game, Jordan. For anyone unfamiliar with Guitar Hero, Buckethead also contributed to the soundtrack for the two live action Mortal Kombat movies, played with Guns N’ Roses before being fired for being too weird, and wrote a guitar solo for the Power Rangers movie, so you know he’s a cool dude. He also loves chickens.
As his name suggests, Buckethead plays guitar with… well… a bucket on his head. Specifically, a bucket from KFC, to obscure his face. Buckethead has maintained this gimmick for his entire career and has subsequently crafted an entire mythology about himself, directly crediting chickens with his ability to play blisteringly fast solos, stating that whenever he plays, he’s channeling their spirit through his guitar. This is notable because while Buckethead has never really enjoyed mainstream success, he’s widely considered one of the most skilled guitarists of his generation for his range and ability to shred. He’s also one of the most prolific musicians of recent times, releasing nearly 300 albums during his career, and has collaborated on songs with everyone from Serj Tankien to Viggo Mortensen. Meaning chickens are indirectly responsible for a musical collaboration between the guy who wrote the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers soundtrack and Aragorn.
Keeping with the theme of all things metal, we should also mention that…
8. There’s an Insanely Metal Chicken that is Entirely Black
Ayam Cemani is the name given to an obscure and rare breed of chicken hailing from Indonesia that is notable for a singular, amazingly metal feature: it is entirely black. And when we say entirely, we mean it.
Literally every part of an Ayam Cemani, save for it’s blood (which is deep crimson), is jet black, including its beak, eyes, organs and even its bones. Prized for their startling appearance, Ayam Cemani regularly sell for thousands of dollars in the States and are sometimes referred to by the kick-ass sobriquet of “Lamborghini of Poultry” due to their desirability and rareness. The bird’s coloration is due to a quirk of genetics that results in an overabundance of pigments in the animal’s body, something we’d probably be inclined to discuss more if we weren’t currently thinking about how awesome a band name “Lamborghini of Poultry” is.
Moving on, did you know that…
7. Chickens Can Live Longer Without a Head, Than the Time They Can Fly
Despite being birds with all the physical characteristics typical of their feathered cousins, chickens are exceptionally poor flyers. To date, the longest ever recorded flight time for a chicken is about 13 seconds, during which time the chicken in question managed to cover just over 300 feet. In contrast, the longest time a chicken has ever survived without a head is about 18 months. That’s not a typo.
Mike the Chicken, or Miracle Mike as he was billed at ’50s sideshows, was a Wyandotte chicken that became world famous when he managed the not unimpressive feat of living for 18 months without a head. As unbelievable as this is all sounds, it wasn’t a hoax. Mike was examined by dozens of experts and his existence is corroborated by photos and periodicals from the period, which begs the question: what the hell?
As it turns out, most of a chicken’s brainstem (which controls most basic bodily functions) is nestled inside of their neck, and in Mike’s case the farmer cutting his head off with a big axe missed it completely while simultaneously cutting off the rest of his head. This, combined with a fluke blood clot, saw the wound close almost instantly, leaving Mike without a head, but the basic ability to walk around and do chicken things. His owner, feeling sorry for him, took to feeding Mike with an eyedropper, pushing food and drink into the open wound where his face used to be. As impressive as this all sounds, it’s hardly surprising given the chicken’s history as a hardened warrior animal, arising as a result of them…
6. Being Originally Domesticated for Their Killing Ability, Not Their Taste
As noted in a previous entry, chickens are seemingly programmed at a genetic level to hate the sight of blood and will viciously attack anything they see covered in it. This is thought to be because the bird was first domesticated by early man around 10,000 years ago, specifically to coax them into fighting to the death.
Even before man began to breed combat chickens, the bird was known for its extreme aggressiveness to the point it’s claimed an Athenian general called Themistocles was able to rouse his troops into defeating the Persian army by making them carefully observe how chickens would fight to the death – not for glory or the gods, but simply to win. A story that’s important because, if true, it would mean chickens helped create Western Civilization as we know it.
Over time, we as a species realized that chickens were delicious and began to instead breed them for food, rather than cockfighting. However, the desire to murder one another still burns in the hearts of many chickens and as a result, cockfighting is still a thing. Which is why we can now you tell the story of the time…
5. A Chicken Stabbed a Man to Death, with a Knife
While we’ve mostly bred out the aggressive tendencies of chickens, the desire to fight still remains within them on a primal level, and the jerks of the world take advantage of this to make them fight to the death for their amusement. In 2011, one unidentified chicken decided to take a stand by stabbing a guy to during a cockfight… with a knife.
According to the official police report, the man, identified as one José Luis Ochoa, was kick-stabbed in the thigh by a rooster, which had a small blade strapped to its foot (presumably in an attempt to give it a literal edge in combat). Ochoa later died at the hospital, which would be sad if he wasn’t a guy who had been previously convicted of being a prick to chickens by making them fight to the death.
But here’s the weirdest part: Ochoa was just a guy in the audience watching the cockfight when he was stabbed, and yet somehow the chicken seemed to know that he’d been convicted of subjecting his chicken brothers to the same fate and singled him out for attack. While we can’t confirm that the chicken specifically targeted Ochoa, we are going to say that we wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that it did.
4. They can Grow Testicles, Seemingly Through Sheer Force of Will
Like many creatures, adult male and female chickens have a number of distinguishing features that help differentiate them from one another. Most noticeably, the cool little mohawk things seen on roosters.
Curiously though, female chickens can not only grow a wattle, but change sex entirely under the right circumstances if they feel like it. This is because female chickens, rather than having two ovaries, have one ovary and an undeveloped sex organ inside their bodies that is sort of like a proto-testicle. If a female chicken finds itself suffering from a disease or illness that harms its functional ovary in any way, the proto-testicle can turn into a new ovary, or in some cases, simply flood the chicken’s body with male hormones, turn into a real testicle, and make the chicken become biologically male in most every way, save for the ability to breed.
This option, however, isn’t open to male chickens, as they don’t possess their same undeveloped sex organ females do, which is probably a good thing given that female chickens sometimes, for no reason…
3. Lay Giant Eggs That Contain Other Eggs
A fertile chicken can lay an egg almost every single day, and in 99.9% of these cases, the egg will look just like any other. Sometimes, though, the egg will be… shall we say… different. By which we mean sometimes it will contain another freakin’ egg.
Typically laid by juvenile or exceptionally fertile chickens, double – or Xzibit eggs, as they should almost certainly be known – are rare and normally harmless to the chicken laying them. However, sometimes they will be double or even triple the size of a regular egg (which can’t be comfortable for the chicken) and will, as mentioned, contain another, fully developed egg. And yes, before you ask, it is possible for this second egg to also contain another egg, and so on and so on, if the chicken’s reproductive system is particularly out of sync and keeps releasing the signal to produce another egg while one is already in its body.
Additionally, chickens can also sometimes lay eggs that are empty, in that they contain an egg white, but no yolk. Something we’re only bringing up so that we can also tell you that these eggs are sometimes known as “fart eggs.”
2. The Devil is Afraid of Them
The crow of a rooster is synonymous with morning and, well, little else. Go back a few hundred years, though, and the crow of a rooster was regarded by some as the singular most badass noise in the entire world, because it was noted as being one of only a few sounds Satan himself feared.
Chickens have long being associated with God, and have historically been seen as a creature capable of warding off evil simply by screaming really loud. This is because a rooster’s crow, as noted, is synonymous with the rising of the sun and the end of darkness, which Satan and all his demon buddies need to skulk around in. As a result, Beelzebub came to treat the creature that heralded the morning with great respect and fear. On the other hand, because of their long-held association with Christianity, those with an interest in the occult looking to sacrifice a creature invariably choose to slaughter a rooster, as doing so is symbolically “tantamount to spitting in the eye of God.” Which is still pretty badass, but kind of sucks for rooster in question.
1. You can Become a Beast Master by Hypnotizing One
We hope by this point in the article you’ve learned enough about chickens to think of them as a more than the things they make McNuggets out of, and maybe even, like us, think they’re pretty cool. If so, you may be pleased to learn that it’s possible (and surprisingly easy) to hypnotize a chicken and make it your mind-slave.
By doing nothing more than gently holding its head and drawing a small line away from its beak, it’s possible to immobilize a chicken for upwards of half an hour, turning it into a living statue frozen by your superior will. This trick takes advantage of a quirk in the chicken’s DNA that paralyzes it when confronted with a specific threat (in this case, a line in the dirt) and is regarded as a holdover in the animal’s genetics from history.
The trick neither hurts the chicken nor causes any lasting harm, but it will make you look like a total badass if you do it immediately after telling people that chickens are programmed at a genetic level to murder, can live without their heads, are feared by Satan, and possibly helped create democracy as we know it.