I spent part of the Labour Day Weekend at the fair with my family. We rode rides, ate cotton candy and hotdogs, and got convinced to try our hands at seemingly simple games of “chance”. We also walked through the animal displays. The kids loved all the animals….the piglets and lambs were favorites, as were the goats and ponies.
While they were tormenting the animals by trying to feed them hay from the floor, or petting their noses, I was watching the crowds as they filed through the cages and cages of fancy birds. Many many of them were captivated by the chickens. There were big ones (truly huge roosters….as big and mean as I’ve ever seen!!). They oohed and aahed over the colors, the combs, the plumage and the songs.
I know that most of the people had no experience with chickens (or turkeys or guinea hens, which they were also fascinated with), and started wondering what it is about chickens that fascinates city folks so much. They are not cuddly….they are not physically imposing…..their eyes can best be described as “beady” or “cold”….they are extremely adept at masking any personality in their appearance – never has a chicken smiled, frowned, winked or scrunched her nose at me (I’m convinced that’s why people love pigs…the nose scrunching thing).
At the reptile exhibit, it hit me. I saw the same interest and wonder in the crowd. Chickens aren’t fascinating because they are adorable….they are interesting because they are feather covered aliens!
These perky purveyors of protein are lizards in disguise. All you chicken lovers out there….look at your hens with an unbiased eye….there is a large remnant of the reptiles they used to be. Chickens are actually one of the closest relatives to dinosaurs that still roam the earth. I saw the same fascination at the reptile show….the big difference is that there is no “eeew” factor with chickens. Somehow the scaly legs, talons and cold, dead eyes don’t gross us out like gators and Gila monsters, but they still captivate us the same way their more primitive cousins do.
Still not convinced? Look:
It’s the wierd quirks of chickens that fascinate us….the laying of eggs, the twitchy way they move their heads, the undulating body movement when they walk. All these things are reminiscent of reptiles…..as are the 3 toes…the lack of external ears…the scaly legs….claws. The fact that feathers are modified scales should come as no surprise.
With all that said, I think I am justified in naming this guy Godzilla, and forbidding my daughter to play with him in the future.
Mike the Chicken Vet