Is a Chicken? Is it a Turkey? No, it’s a Churkey!
Originating in Transylvania and introduced to Britain in the 1920s, there exists an interesting specimen of fowl called the naked neck chicken. Though it has the body of a chicken, genetic mutations within the creature has given it the neck of a turkey. Because of this, many had once believed it to be a hybrid of both a chicken and a turkey; they dubbed it “turken” and “churkey.”
This awkward bird has long baffled scientists and admirers of poultry, intriguing them enough to sustain home-spun theories. Some theories fall into the absurd, saying that it was a gift of Mother Nature who saw that humans needed an easier to pluck bird or that it made it easier for the Transylvanian vampires to bite into their necks.
However, scientists from the Roslin Insitute at the University of Edinburgh have studied the DNA of the bird and believe that the reason this mutation occurred was as a way to stay cool. Dr. Denis Headon, the lead researcher, thinks that this may assist those who breed chickens in hot countries.
Along with having bare necks, these naked neck chickens also have fewer feathers on their bodies. Despite these changes, they still act like normal chickens; they lay good eggs and are immensely popular for their meat. The major difference is that they are more capable of handling heat than other poultry fowl. The mutation first appeared hundreds of years prior in Romania.
The evolutionary changes in the naked neck chicken has allowed for it to survive. Though many mutations are often weeded out as being harmful, this mutation is one of the few to have been passed on between the birds. This beneficial change has made them quite popular with poultry farmers in warmer climates, allowing the farmers to raise them successfully.