Why can't chickens fly like other birds?

Regular readers of our site probably know that today science knows about the existence of more than 11 thousand species of birds. Many of them are excellent flyers – they flap their wings, thereby creating lift. The ability to fly helps birds quickly find food, escape from enemies and move between habitats that are comfortable for them. However, there are birds in the world that are completely devoid of the ability to fly. For example, penguins, ostriches, kakapo parrots and representatives of several other species do not have this skill. The flightless birds closest to us, of course, are domestic chickens. How did it happen that they completely lost this amazing skill?

Why can't chickens fly like all other birds? Birds can't fly, and there are good reasons for this. Image: DALLE-3 neural network. Photo.

Birds can’t fly, and there are good reasons for this. Image: DALLE-3 neural network

How Domestic Chickens Appeared

If you read the article “How many years do chickens live if you don’t kill them for meat,” then you probably remember that domestic chickens descended from bank junglefowl (Gallus gallus). These are small birds that live in the dense forests of Southeast Asia and weigh a maximum of 1.5 kilograms.

Unlike domestic chickens, which provide us with eggs and meat, these creatures are much better adapted to flight. They spend most of their time on the ground, but they can still fly to a small height – this allows them to land on high tree branches.

How Domestic Chickens Came to Be. Male Bank Junglefowl. Image: Steve Garvie, wikimedia.org. Photo.

Male bank junglefowl. Image: Steve Garvie, wikimedia.org

There is little doubt that bank jungle fowls are the closest relatives of domestic chickens. In the 19th century, the English naturalist Charles Darwin noticed that crossing these two species produces healthy offspring that do not have any developmental abnormalities.

Article on the topic: From whom did modern chickens originate? and ducks?

Why don’t chickens fly

In 2020, scientists conducted a study and found that the division of chickens into wild and domestic individuals occurred approximately 7,500 years ago. Birds were domesticated in China – through crossing, new breeds with unique appearance and skills were born.

Some types of domestic chickens have unusual colors, long tails, and also lay eggs in exotic colors. But the main task of the breeders was not to breed beautiful birds, but nutritious ones. It was important to them that the chickens had large pectoral muscles and also produced a lot of eggs.

Why chickens don't fly. Adler silver breed of chickens. Image: petnaobed.ru. Photo.

Adler silver breed of chickens. Image: petnaobed.ru

The first reason why domestic chickens cannot fly is their large body weight. Not only have they become fleshier as a result of many years of crossing, but their bones have also become slightly heavier. Their small wings simply cannot lift their torso. Some individuals can fly over a small fence, but this is the maximum they can do.

Why don't chickens fly? Chickens can use their wings for long jumps. Image: 7ogorod.ru. Photo.

Chickens can use their wings for long jumps. Image: 7ogorod.ru

The second reason chickens are unable to fly is that they simply don’t need to. Wild animals need the ability to jump high because they can be attacked by predators at any moment. Pets are under the care of people, live in chicken coops, so they are in almost no danger. Of course, foxes and other animals can get into them at any time, but the owners are trying by all means to protect the chickens from any threats.

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Why can’t penguins fly

In addition to chickens, penguins are flightless birds. They are not domesticated by humans, so their inability to fly is due to environmental conditions.

Nature is designed in such a way that no animal can achieve perfection in swimming, flying and running at the same time. Penguins living in the cold regions of our planet are adapted to swimming to the maximum, because this is the only way they can get food – fish living in cold waters.

Why penguins can't fly. Penguins don't fly, but they are excellent swimmers. Image: dailytelegraph.com.au. Photo.

Penguins don’t fly, but they are excellent quicksand swimmers. Image: dailytelegraph.com.au

Birds use their small wings not for flying, but for swimming. With their help, they are able to dive to depths of up to 20 meters and swim at speeds of up to 36 kilometers per hour. Thanks to the gained speed, penguins jump onto land – sometimes the jump height reaches 2 meters. Penguins use their legs as a rudder to change direction while in the water. Because of all this, penguins run poorly, and flying is out of the question.

If you are interested, there are a lot of articles on the topic of chickens on our site, and at one time hundreds of thousands of people read them.< /p>

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