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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 30 years (captivity) Observations: Chickens are considered a relatively short-lived and fast ageing species (Holmes et al. 2003). The maximum longevity in captivity of these birds, however, has been reported to be 30 years (http://www.demogr.mpg.de/longevityrecords). This is not impossible considering the large number of animals kept in captivity, yet remains unproven. For comparative analyses the use of a more conservative value for maximum longevity, such as 15 or 20 years, is recommended. Domestic chicken reach sexual maturity before six months of age.
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Reproduction

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The breeding season of the red junglfowl is spring and summer. The chicks will start their lives in the warmth of the summer sun. An egg is laid each day. For twenty-one days before hatching, the chick will develop inside of the egg. On the first day, the heart and blood vessels of the chick develop and start to work. At the end of the first day, the head starts to take shape. By the fourth day, all organs of the future chick are present. On the fifth day, external sex structure developed. By the thirteenth day, the skeleton begins to calcify using the calcium from the eggshell. From the time when the egg is laid until hatching, the chick feeds on the yolk that surrounds him. The yolk penetrate in the chick body by the umbilicus. On the twenty-first day, the chick, now fully developed, starts to break through his thin shell. This action can take anywhere from ten to twenty hours. (North and Bell 1990)

By four to five weeks of age, the chicks are normally fully feathered. Their first adult wings' feather will take another four weeks to grow. When the chicks are twelve weeks old, the mother chases them out of the group. They will then go on to form their own group or join another. At five months old, the chicks reach sexual maturity. The females reach sexual maturity a little later than the males. (Limburg 1975)

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Untitled

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Gallus gallus can live up to ten years. The molting process, taking the old feathers and putting new ones on, for an adult, takes about three to four months every year. The memory of the red junglefowl is very short. (North and Bell 1990)

Domestic chickens, Gallus gallus domesticus, are believed to have originated from a continental population of Gallus gallus gallus.

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Behavior

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Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Conservation Status

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Red junglefowl have been mostly genetically interbred with domestic and feral chickens, as a survey of 745 museum specimens has shown. A sign of pure wild genotypes for G. gallus is, for males, an eclipse plumage. This eclipse plumage has been seen only in populations in the western and central of the species' geographic range. It is believed that G. gallus has disappeared from extreme south-eastern Asia and the Phillippines. This suggestion is supported by an intense scientific collection made in 1860. In the 1960's, studies in north-eastern India revealed a population of red junglefowl exhibiting the eclipse plumage. The purity of the species is in danger because of the region's dense human population, whose domestic chickens could continue to contaminate G. gallus genetically. (Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Benefits

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Gallus gallus is such an easy animal to take care of and can find food for himself that it does not have a negative impact on economy or humans. (Limburg 1975, Phillips 1999)

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Benefits

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These birds are used mainly for eggs and meat production. The red junglefowl is sometimes used for cock fighting or chicken competitions. Gallus gallus feathers were used for pillows and mattress. (Limburg 1975, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Trophic Strategy

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Gallus gallus is an herbivore and insectivore. Red junglefowls eat corn, soybean, worms, grass, and different kinds of grains found on the ground. They cannot detect sweet tastes. They can detect salt, but most red junglefowl do not like it. (Damerow 1995, Limburg 1975, Ponnampalam 2000)

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Distribution

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Gallus gallus is native to Southern Asia, particularly the jungles of India. Gallus gallus spread all over the world when people domesticated the chicken. This account primarily discusses the wild species (Philips 1999, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Habitat

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Gallus gallus lives in thick secondary forest or lush belukar. In the morning or evening, the bird can be found in an open area by wide earthen tracts or clearing, where the red junglefowl finds food. Sometimes G. gallus can be seen in oil-palm estates. (Ponnampalam 2000)

Terrestrial Biomes: forest

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Life Expectancy

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Average lifespan
Status: captivity:
30.0 years.

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Morphology

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Gallus gallus' plumage is gold, red, brown, dark maroon, orange, with a bit of metallic green and gray. There are also some white and olive feathers. Two white patches, shaped like an ear, appear on either side of the head. Gallus gallus can be distinguish from other chickens not only by these white patches, but also by the grayish feet. The red junglefowl can measure up to 70 centimeters in length. They have a total of fourteen tail feathers. Gallus gallus rooster tails can be almost 28 centimeter in length.

The red junglefowl rooster is said to be more brilliantly colored that its tame relative. During June to October, G. gallus moults into an eclipse plumage. An eclipse plumage is, for male, black long feather across the middle of his back and slender red-orange plumes on the rest of his body. For a female, an eclipse plumage cannot be distiguished, but she does moult. The female red junglefowl is leaner than tame hens. (North and Bell 1990, Ponnampalam 2000, Stevens 1991, Peterson and Brisbin 1999)

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Average mass: 2580.2 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 6.005 W.

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Gautier, Z. 2002. "Gallus gallus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Gallus_gallus.html
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Biology

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The red junglefowl lives in small mixed flocks during the non-breeding season - summer, autumn and winter (3). These have a hierarchical social system in which there is a 'pecking order' for both males and females (4). In the spring, at the onset of the breeding season, each of the stronger cocks maintains a territory with three to five hens (3). Meanwhile, young cocks live isolated in twos and threes. Studies have shown that the offspring of top roosters are more likely to grow up to be leaders than are those of low-ranking males, and that hierarchy may have a genetic component. Experiments have shown that females have the ability to retain or eject sperm, and that they consistently retain the sperm of the one or two dominant roosters in the group and eject that of all others (9). Hens produce four to seven, typically four to six, eggs per clutch, which are incubated for 18 to 20 days by the female only (2) (4). At twelve weeks of age, the young are chased out of the social group by their mother, and go off to join another group or form their own (4). Red junglefowl forage on the ground for seeds, fruit and insects, using their feet to scratch away the leaf-litter in search of food (5).
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Conservation

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With as much hybridisation in captivity as in the wild, both between pure and domestic stock and between the five subspecies, a studbook has now been developed and many breeders are having their birds' DNA tested for purity (8). The World Pheasant Association is also undertaking extensive DNA research, but sadly virtually all the birds in captivity in Europe have been found to display hybridised genes (10). It seems that its domestic descendents will be the undoing of this unique wild bird, which has been quietly slipping into genetic extinction, before the world was even aware of, and could appropriately respond to, the situation (7). In the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, where local people appear never to have allowed free roaming domestic poultry, due to high numbers of predators such as leopards (panthera pardus) and leopard cats (felis bengalensis), junglefowl that retain traditional morphology continue to exist and are currently the subject of considerable research (10).
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Description

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Red junglefowl are the wild ancestors of all domestic poultry (3), although the rooster is said to be more brilliantly colored than its tame relative (4). The vibrant male has long, golden-orange to deep-red crown and neck feathers, and a dark metallic-green tail with a white tuft at the base. The underparts are a dull black while the upperparts are a combination of glossy blue-green, rich dark red, maroon-red, fiery orange, rufous and blackish brown (3). The colourful cock also has vivid scarlet-red facial skin, throat, two lappets and heavily dented fleshy crest (comb), and red or white ear patches on the sides of the head (3) (4) (5). The rather drab female is a dull brown-gold colour (6) with a partly naked, pale red face and throat (3). After the summer moult, from June to September, the male develops an 'eclipse plumage', in which the golden neck feathers (hackles) are replaced with dull black feathers, the long tail feathers are lost, and the comb reduces in size and becomes duller in colour (3) (4). With much hybridisation between pure and domestic stock, the standard criteria of pure wild junglefowl include the tail being carried horizontally in both sexes, the absence of a comb in the female, and dark or slate grey leg colour and an annual eclipse moult in the male (3) (7). There are five subspecies, which vary in the colour of the facial lappets, in the size of the combs, and in the length, colour and terminal end shape of the neck hackles of males during the breeding season (2) (8).
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Habitat

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The red junglefowl occupies most tropical and subtropical habitats throughout its extensive range, including mangroves, scrubland and plantations, although it seems to prefer flat or gently sloping terrain, forest edges and secondary forest (2) (4). It is also found in the foothills of the Himalayas. Found from sea level up to around 2,500 metres (2).
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Range

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Native to Southern and Southeast Asia (6), from India eastward and south through Indonesia, but the domestic form is found worldwide and hybridisation is widespread (8). Five subspecies are usually recognised: the Indian red junglefowl (G. g. murghi) occurs in north and northeast India, adjacent Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh; the Burmese red junglefowl (G. g. spadiceus) in southwest Yunnan (China) and adjacent east Arunachal Pradesh (India), Myanmar, Thailand (except East), Peninsular Malaysia and north Sumatra; the Tonkinese red junglefowl (G. g. jabouillei) in southeast Yunnan and Hainan (China) and north Vietnam; the Cochin-Chinese red junglefowl (G. g. gallus) in east Thailand through central and south Laos, and Cambodia to central and south Vietnam; and the Javan red junglefowl (G. g. bankiva) in south Sumatra, Java and Bali (2) (8) (11).
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Status

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Classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Threats

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The red junglefowl is generally considered common and widespread despite habitat loss and poaching within its range (5) (8). The bird is affected relatively little by habitat loss because it can occupy a variety of habitats, including secondary vegetation and man-made habitats, such as rubber and oil-palm plantations and planted fields on forest edges (2) (10). However, it has recently come to light that genetic contamination through interbreeding with domestic and feral chickens poses the real threat, pushing pure wild junglefowl to the verge of extinction (4) (8). Eclipse plumage, one of the indicators of pure stock, is now only seen in populations in the western and central regions of the species' geographic range, and it is therefore feared that the pure form of this colourful bird has disappeared completely from extreme south-east Asia. Due to the high density of the human population, whose domestic chickens could continue to contaminate the red junglefowl genetically, the purity of the species, where it remains, is in constant danger (4) (7) (10).
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Red junglefowl

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The red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) is a tropical bird in the family Phasianidae. It ranges across much of Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. Red junglefowl are the primary progenitor of the domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), but the grey junglefowl, Sri Lankan junglefowl and green junglefowl have also contributed genetic materials to the gene pool of the domestic chicken.[2][3]

Evidence from the molecular level derived from whole-genome sequencing revealed that chicken was domesticated from red junglefowl about 8,000 years ago, with this domestication event involving multiple maternal origins.[2][4] Since then, their domestic form has spread around the world and is kept globally as a source of meat and eggs.[5]

Taxonomy and systematics

Numerous wild and domestic subspecies of Gallus gallus exist, including:

Gallus      

Grey junglefowlGallus sonneratii

   

Sri Lanka junglefowlGallus lafayettii

     

Red junglefowlGallus gallus

     

Green junglefowlGallus varius

    Cladogram showing the species in the genus Gallus.[6]

Description

The nominate race of red junglefowl has a mix of feather colours, with orange, brown, red, gold, grey, white, olive and even metallic green plumage. The tail of the male roosters can grow up to 28 centimetres (11 in), and the whole bird may be as long as 70 centimetres (28 in). There are 14 tail feathers. A moult in June changes the bird's plumage to an eclipse pattern, which lasts through October. The male eclipse pattern includes a black feather in the middle of the back and small red-orange plumes spread across the body. Female eclipse plumage is generally indistinguishable from the plumage at other seasons, but the moulting schedule is the same as that of males.[7]

Compared to the more familiar domestic chicken, the red junglefowl has a much smaller body mass (around 2¼ lbs (1 kg) in females and 3¼ lbs (1.5kg) in males) and is brighter in coloration.[7] Junglefowl are also behaviourally different from domestic chickens, being naturally very shy of humans compared to the much tamer domesticated subspecies.

Sexual dimorphism

Male junglefowl are significantly larger than females and have brightly coloured decorative feathers. The male's tail is composed of long, arching feathers that initially look black, but shimmer with blue, purple, and green in direct light. He also has long, golden hackle feathers on his neck and on his back. The female's plumage is typical of this family of birds in being cryptic and adapted for camouflage. She alone looks after the eggs and chicks. She also has a very small comb and wattles (fleshy ornaments on the head that signal good health to rivals and potential mates) compared to the males.

"Drab
Female red junglefowl

During their mating season, the male birds announce their presence with the well known "cock-a-doodle-doo" call or crowing.[8] Within flocks, only dominant males crow.[9] Male red junglefowl have a shorter crowing sound than domestic roosters; the call cuts off abruptly at the end.[8] This serves both to attract potential mates and to make other male birds in the area aware of the risk of fighting a breeding competitor. A spur on the lower leg just behind and above the foot serves in such fighting. Their call structure is complex and they have distinctive alarm calls for aerial and ground predators to which others react appropriately.[10][11]

Distribution and habitat

The range of the wild form stretches from India eastwards across Indochina and southern China, into Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Junglefowl were one of three main animals (along with the domesticated pigs and dogs) carried by early Austronesian peoples from Island Southeast Asia in their voyages to the islands of Oceania in prehistory, starting at around 5,000 BP. Today their ancient descendants are found throughout Micronesia, Melanesia, and Polynesia.[12]

Red junglefowl prefer disturbed habitats and edges, both natural and human-created. Apparently the forage[13][14][9] and thick cover in these sorts of areas are attractive to junglefowl, especially nesting females[15]. Junglefowl use logged and regenerating forests[16] and often are found near human settlement [17] and areas regenerating from slash-and-burn cultivation [9]. Areas burned to promote bamboo growth also attract junglefowl because bamboo seeds are more available[14][15]. In some areas, red junglefowl are absent from silvicultural [16] and rubber [18] plantations, but elsewhere they occur in both tea and palm-oil plantations [18]. In Selangor Province, Malaysia, palm foliage provides suitable cover, and palm oil fruit provides adequate food[19]. The palms also offer an array of roost sites, from the low perches (~4 m) favored by females with chicks to the higher perches (up to 12 m) used by other adults[20].

Red junglefowl drink surface water when it is available, but they apparently do not require it. Birds in North Central India visit water holes frequently during the dry season, although not all junglefowl in the region live close enough to water to do so[15]. Population densities may be lower, however, where surface water is limited[14].

Behaviour and ecology

"Colorful
Male red junglefowl

Red junglefowl regularly bathe in dust to keep the right balance of oil in their plumage. The dust absorbs extra oil and subsequently falls off.[21]

Flight in these birds is almost purely confined to reaching their roosting areas at sunset in trees or any other high and relatively safe places free from ground predators, and for escape from immediate danger through the day.

Dominant male junglefowl appear to defend a territory against other dominant males, and the size of the territories has been inferred based on the proximity of roosts. Beebe[17] concluded that territories were rather small, especially as compared to some of the pheasants with which he was familiar. This was supported by Collias and Collias,[15] who reported that adjacent roost sites can be as close as 100 meters. Within flocks, male red junglefowl exhibit dominance hierarchies and dominant males tend to have larger combs than subordinate males.[22] Red junglefowl typically live in flocks of one to a few males and several females. Males are more likely to occur alone than are females.[15][14][9][23][24][25]

"refer
Illustration of male and female red junglefowl

Breeding

"
Gallus gallus - MHNT

Males make a food-related display called "tidbitting", performed upon finding food in the presence of a female.[26] The display is composed of coaxing, cluck-like calls, and eye-catching bobbing and twitching motions of the head and neck. During the performance, the male repeatedly picks up and drops the food item with his beak. The display usually ends when the hen takes the food item either from the ground or directly from the male's beak. Mating then sometimes occurs.[27]

In many areas, red junglefowl breed during the dry portion of the year, typically winter or spring. This is true in parts of India, Nepal, Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos[14][15][9][23][24][25]. However, year-round breeding by red junglefowl has been documented in palm-oil plantations in Malaysia[19] and also may occur elsewhere [24]. During the laying period, red junglefowl females lay an egg every day. Eggs take 21 days to develop. Chicks fledge in about 4 to 5 weeks, and at 12 weeks old they are chased out of the group by their mother — at which point they start a new group or join an existing one. Sexual maturity is reached at 5 months, with females taking slightly longer than males to reach maturity.[7]

Dominant males attempt to maintain exclusive reproductive access to females, though females chose to mate with subordinate males about 40% of the time in a free-ranging feral flock in San Diego, USA[28][29].

Diet

Red junglefowl are attracted to areas with ripe fruit or seeds[15], including fruit plantations[18], fields of domestic grain[17], and stands of bamboo[9]. Although junglefowl typically eat fallen fruits and seeds on the ground, they occasionally forage in trees by perching on branches and feeding on hanging fruit[9]. Fruits and seeds of scores of plant species have been identified from junglefowl crops, along with leaves, roots, and tubers[9]. In addition, red junglefowl capture a wide variety of arthropods, other invertebrates, and vertebrates such as small lizards. Even mammalian feces may be consumed[9]. Many of these items are taken opportunistically as the birds forage, although some arthropods, such as termites, are taken in large quantities; about 1,000 individual termites have been found in a single crop[9][15]. Plant materials constitute a higher proportion of the diet of adult red junglefowl than do arthropods and other animals. In contrast, chicks eat mostly adult and larval insects, earthworms, and only occasional plant material[9].

Relationship to humans

"refer
Male red junglefowl crowing on a tree branch

The red junglefowl was domesticated for human use well over 5,000 years ago as subspecies Gallus gallus domesticus. Known as chickens, they are a major source of food for humans. However, undomesticated red junglefowls still represent an important source of meat and eggs in their endemic range. The undomesticated form is sometimes used in cock-fighting.[7]

Timeline of domestication

In 2012, a study examined mitochondrial DNA recovered from ancient bones from Europe, Thailand, the Pacific, and Chile, and from Spanish colonial sites in Florida and the Dominican Republic, in directly dated samples originating in Europe at 1,000 BP and in the Pacific at 3,000 BP. Chicken was primarily domesticated from red junglefowl, with subsequent genetic contributions from grey junglefowl, Sri Lankan junglefowl, and green junglefowl.[2] Domestication occurred about 8,000 years ago, as based on molecular evidence[2] from a common ancestor flock in the bird's natural range, and then proceeded in waves both east and west. Other archaeology evidence suggest domestication date around 7,400 BP from the Chishan site, in the Hebei province of China. However, domestication event in China has now been disputed by several studies citing unfavourable weather condition at the time[30][31]. In the Ganges region of India, red junglefowl were being used by humans as early as 7,000 years ago. No domestic chicken remains older than 4,000 years have been identified in the Indus Valley, and the antiquity of chickens recovered from excavations at Mohenjodaro is still debated.[5]

Hybridisation

The other three members of the genus — Sri Lanka junglefowl (G. lafayetii), grey junglefowl (G. sonneratii), and the green junglefowl (G. varius) — do not usually produce fertile hybrids with the red junglefowl. However, supporting the hypothesis of a hybrid origin, research published in 2008 found that the gene responsible for the yellow skin of the domestic chicken most likely originated from the closely related grey junglefowl and not from the red junglefowl.[3] A 2020 study that analysed the whole genome of Sri Lanka junglefowl, grey junglefowl, and green junglefowl found strong introgressive hybridisation events in different populations of indigenous village chickens.[2] The study also shows that 71–79% of red junglefowl DNA is shared with the domestic chicken.[2] A culturally significant hybrid between the red junglefowl and the green junglefowl in Indonesia is known as the bekisar.

Status

Wild-type red junglefowl are thought to be facing threats due to hybridisation at forest edges, where domesticated free-ranging chickens are common.[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42] Nevertheless, they are classified by the IUCN as a species of least concern.

References

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Gallus gallus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Lawal, RA.; et al. (2020). "The wild species genome ancestry of domestic chickens". BMC Biology. 18 (13): 13. doi:10.1186/s12915-020-0738-1. PMID 32050971.
  3. ^ a b Eriksson, Jonas; Larson, Greger; Gunnarsson, Ulrika; Bed'hom, Bertrand; Tixier-Boichard, Michele; Strömstedt, Lina; Wright, Dominic; Jungerius, Annemieke; et al. (23 January 2008), "Identification of the Yellow Skin Gene Reveals a Hybrid Origin of the Domestic Chicken", PLoS Genetics, PLoS Genet, preprint (2008): e10, doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000010.eor, PMID 18454198
  4. ^ Liu, Y-P.; et al. (2006). "Multiple Maternal Origins of Chickens: Out of the Asian Jungles". Mol Phylogenet Evol. 38 (1): 12–9. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2005.09.014. PMID 16275023.
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Red junglefowl: Brief Summary

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The red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) is a tropical bird in the family Phasianidae. It ranges across much of Southeast Asia and parts of South Asia. Red junglefowl are the primary progenitor of the domestic chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), but the grey junglefowl, Sri Lankan junglefowl and green junglefowl have also contributed genetic materials to the gene pool of the domestic chicken.

Evidence from the molecular level derived from whole-genome sequencing revealed that chicken was domesticated from red junglefowl about 8,000 years ago, with this domestication event involving multiple maternal origins. Since then, their domestic form has spread around the world and is kept globally as a source of meat and eggs.

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