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Cock-a-doodle-doo. What, what?
December 12, 2004 5:38 PM   Subscribe

20,000 genes and splices: the Colonel's Secret Recipe revealed! Even the fanciest chickens won't be able to ignore their genetic cousins now.
posted by naomi (32 comments total)

 
Is this the whole Animal 54 conspiracy theory?
posted by Captaintripps at 5:50 PM on December 12, 2004


There is no conspiracy. (cluck)
posted by ladd at 5:57 PM on December 12, 2004


Thanks for that hatchery link. Excellent prices! Now I know where to do my Christmas shopping.
posted by painquale at 6:01 PM on December 12, 2004


To explain my first comment, if you're not aware.

I went to a rather...earthish collegiate institution. I often heard the trope that Kentucky Fried Chicken changed its name to KFC because they no longer used chicken, they used a genetically engineered animal. I believe it was called animal 54.

I've not set foot in a KFC in years, but let me lay this out for you. These people said that Animal 54 was a chicken-derived creature with four breasts, four wings and essentially no head. It was fed intravenously.

Now, if they didn't see the economic issues involved with that...
posted by Captaintripps at 6:22 PM on December 12, 2004


KFC is simultaneously disgusting and delicious and much like KFC herbs and spices making fat soaked chicken taste good nothing that makes a science article more palatable than puns.

As for animal 54:

This is all I could find


But there is lots of information debunking KFC hoaxes.
posted by srboisvert at 6:31 PM on December 12, 2004


Animal 57 is also known as Animal 57.
posted by kenko at 6:51 PM on December 12, 2004


Animal 54 is also known as Animal 57.
posted by kenko at 6:52 PM on December 12, 2004


Matt...hey Matt...can I change my username to Animal 57?
posted by Jimbob at 7:05 PM on December 12, 2004


Many researchers may be most intrigued by the non-coding parts of the chicken genome. It is not unusual for different species to share regions of DNA that have a fundamental biological function. Scientists call these areas 'conserved' because any mutations within them disrupt that function and are usually selected against.

But when the group compared the chicken genome with that of other mammal species, including humans, they found a surprising amount of similarity in regions not thought to be involved in protein production.


cool stuff! thanks for the link.
posted by blendor at 7:42 PM on December 12, 2004


These people said that Animal 54 was a chicken-derived creature with four breasts, four wings and essentially no head. It was fed intravenously.

"You're way off. Think smaller. Think more legs." -- Krusty T. Clown
posted by lodurr at 7:54 PM on December 12, 2004


Animal 54 was a chicken-derived creature with four breasts, four wings and essentially no head. It was fed intravenously

No brain, no suffering! Bam! Science triumphs again!
posted by painquale at 8:03 PM on December 12, 2004


(See, now, this is the kind of stuff you lose if you get too hard-assed about derails....)

But Seriously, Folks. I heard about "Red Jungle Fowl 256" (for that is her "name"....) on "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" this morning. So now, they've sequenced the genome of the fore-runner to modern domestic chickens. Those maniacs. Damn them. Damn them all to hell. [deadpan /]
posted by lodurr at 8:05 PM on December 12, 2004


54, 57; it's all bogus.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:08 PM on December 12, 2004


Ah, The International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium-- they do good work.

How great would that look on a business card?

FADE IN on a swanky cocktail party in a Manhattan penthouse. Two men in tuxedos stand chatting by the canapes.

Man #1: So, what do you do?

Man #2: I'm a member of The International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium. We travel the world solving mysteries by sequencing chicken genes. And yourself?

Man #1: I, uh... I sell insurance.

FADE OUT.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:21 PM on December 12, 2004


Those similar regions sound like 'junk' DNA. I remember reading an article in Scientific American (now archived, it was the Oct '04 edition -- here's a blurb) about 'junk' DNA. Although it's function is still unknown, the author (John S. Mattick) wrote about how the stability of this excess DNA could point to it being involved in basic regulatory functions (I think some of the functions involved RNA and the control of DNA). IIRC, one of the ideas was that instead of proteins, the jDNA described other molecules that managed the proteins generated by the protein-producing segments of DNA.

This looks like a much denser version of the SciAm article, by the same guy. After quickly looking at this, I want to say that one of things from the SciAm article he mentioned was that if similar sequences of jDNA are found across diverse species, it could point to the jDNA--in the article "non-protein-coding RNA"--actually being necessary for higher life-forms.
posted by MikeKD at 10:43 PM on December 12, 2004


Whatever. As long as it tastes like chicken...
posted by Specklet at 11:14 PM on December 12, 2004


Whatever. As long as it tastes like chicken
posted by Deepspace at 1:12 AM on December 13, 2004


I actually am a member of the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium. I really should get business cards printed up. Some of my responsibilities involved comparing noncoding regions of the genome with mammals.

Almost everyone in the field now accepts that "junk" DNA is a misnomer and the term is not usually. We usually call the bit between genes intergenic sequence. And it is almost certainly has many more subtle aspects than the one that John Mattick wrote about.
posted by grouse at 5:04 AM on December 13, 2004


I totally love the way science and comedy are merging in this thread.

Please, grouse... um, before I get too distracted by your nickname... do you have any insider stories from the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium?

For example, is it true that chickens really do have a sense of smell, after all? And that domestic chickens have more diverse genes than the red jungle fowl?
posted by naomi at 6:16 AM on December 13, 2004


For example, is it true that chickens really do have a sense of smell, after all?

Yes, chickens do have a sense of smell. According to the current best data, they have 283 olfactory receptor genes, a similar number to that of humans.

And that domestic chickens have more diverse genes than the red jungle fowl?

This question actually relates to work done by the International Chicken Polymorphism Map Consortium, not the Sequencing Consortium. And I think you mean to ask if the nucleotide diversities of the domestic breeds are higher than that of the red jungle fowl. No, they are approximately equal, but people expected the domestic breeds to be far less diverse.


I know you're making fun of us, but the chicken genome is actually very useful scientifically. Even if you don't care about the agricultural uses of the information. The reason is these regions of non-gene DNA discussed earlier. If these regions were truly junk, you would expect them to have completely changed over the last 310 million years. But there are regions that are almost completely conserved against human sequence. There must be some biological reason for this, and knowing where these conserved regions are help us understand how the products of the human genome are controlled, among other things.
posted by grouse at 6:55 AM on December 13, 2004


No, no, I am truly fascinated by all the genome mapping projects! It's just that chickens are inherently comical.

I wonder what our common ancestor looked like?
posted by naomi at 7:05 AM on December 13, 2004


I wonder what our common ancestor looked like?

Like your garden variety, floor-crawling, slithery lizard.
posted by Goedel at 7:20 AM on December 13, 2004


I actually am a member of the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium.

That's Awesome. I Love Metafilter!

And I, too, am truly fascinated by all the genome mapping projects. The Future Is Now!

grouse, what's your take on Animal 54/57? An urban myth, no doubt, but could one of these creatures actually be 'built?'
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:22 AM on December 13, 2004


naomi: Birds share a common ancestor with reptiles. The group of reptiles and birds, the sauropsids, share a common ancestor with mammals. Animals in the sauropsid+mammal taxon are referred to as amniotes. I'm not an expert on paleontology so I'll defer to Goedel's source here as to what it looked like.

Fuzzy Monster: A big growing slab of meat? I think we're a little ways off from that. Chickens without beaks or feathers? Yeah, it could happen in a few years. The research cost would be incredible though, and I doubt it would be worth it for KFC.
posted by grouse at 8:59 AM on December 13, 2004


I actually am a member of the International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium.

I actually am wondering if I've been successfully trolled. ICGSC? It's so wonderfully strange!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:29 AM on December 13, 2004


fff: Check my MeFi profile against the membership list at the end of the paper.
posted by grouse at 10:50 AM on December 13, 2004


Truth is always stranger than fiction!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:47 AM on December 13, 2004


The featherless chicken was done a few years ago. Next step: get rid of everything but the breasts and drumsticks.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:10 PM on December 13, 2004


You guys should read Oryx & Crake by Atwood. (There's a product that's just living chicken breast--it's all about what happens when genetic modification goes too far)
posted by amberglow at 7:28 PM on December 13, 2004


Too far is when a living, disembodied, human breast can be found at ThinkGeek.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:53 PM on December 13, 2004


Don't be silly. They won't be disembodied, they'll be attached to mouse pads.
posted by catachresoid at 4:34 AM on December 14, 2004


IANAICGSCM (I Am Not An International Chicken Genome Sequencing Consortium Member) and IANAICPMCM (I Am Not An International Chicken Polymorphism Map Consortium Member). Grouse, this is good.
posted by theora55 at 7:29 AM on December 14, 2004


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