An eggstra-ordinary timeline of chickens

From T-Rex to KFC, this timeline will take you on a historical and cultural tour of how chickens have become one the most important domesticated animals of the human age.  

 A BRIEF HISTORY OF CHICKENS Chickens have come a long way - from dinosaurs to Easter eggs, this timeline shows some of the key dates that have shaped this remarkable species... 230 million years ago This marked the beginning of the gradual evolutionary process where some dinosaurs (including the T-Rex) developed into birds. 50 million years ago It's believed that all modern domesticated chickens descended from the 4 types of jungle fowl which originally lived in South East Asia. Around 8000 years ago Humans started to domesticate chickens - for cock-fighting in the first instance. 1350 BC The Ancient Egyptians were big fans of this sport and developed special techniques to incubate fertilised eggs (incl. burning camel poo and straw). 500 BC It was many years later that people started to rear chickens for eggs and meat. The Ancient Greeks considered chicken to be a real delicacy and lined their banquet tables with them. 250 BC The Romans also enjoyed chickens for cock-fighting and feasting on. But they also took them to military outposts as they believed they could tell the future- 'The Sacred Chickens' as raised by priests. 476 AD The decline of the Roman empire also saw a decline in the role of the chicken. Big organised farms  - suited to chickens - largely vanished and hardier birds like geese and partridge were feasted on by medieval folk.  1200 AD Chickens were first introduced to the Americas by the Polynesians. They were also brought over by Spanish explorers. Early 1600s People have been decorating eggs for 1000s of years but the Christian tradition of staining an egg red - during Lent- began around this time. It wasn't until the 19th century that we see the introduction of chocolate eggs- nyom nyom. Ongoing Cock-fighting has become illegal in many parts of the world. But selective breeding continues for meat and egg production, and collectors. This visual (see left) by L. Prang & Co. identified 52 breeds in 1868- there are many more today. 1950s Chicken farming turned into a large scale industry. With the development of food with antibiotics and vitamins, farmers could raise birds indoors away from risk. 1000s of chickens began to be reared in small cages with their sole focus being to eat and grow ('known as battery farming'). To the present day Although several countries have now banned the original battery cage- 74% are still raised in intensive factory farms. Chicken continues to be one of most consumed meats globally and this doesn't look to change anytime soon especially with the rapid growth of popular food chains such as KFC and Nandos. 2004 An international team of scientists produced a complete map of the chicken genome (DNA) - linking them to the dinosaurs.