Monday, July 18, 2011
These chickens are named turkins or naked necks. Some think they are related to turkeys but this is a fallacy .
The Transylvanian bird's naked neck results from a random genetic mutation that causes the overproduction of a feather-blocking molecule called BMP12, a new DNA study shows. (Get the basics on genetics.)
The mutation first arose in domestic chickens in northern Romania hundreds of years ago. The naked neck chicken—also dubbed the churkey or turken—has a chicken-like body but a turkey-like head atop a long, deep-red neck.
Surprisingly, when scientists treated standard-breed chicken embryos with BMP12 in the lab, the young chickens developed no feathers on their necks—suggesting the neck is more sensitive to the molecule, according to study leader Denis Headon, a developmental biologist at the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute