Raptor Anniversary3 min read
Thanks to farm animal breeding programs gone awry, chickens kept getting larger and larger until they started to evolve back into dinosaurs.
“The only way we could stop this was to kill the chickens,” says Dr. David H. Schoenfeld, the founder and president of the American Egg Board, a nonprofit group that promotes the welfare of eggs and poultry. “We could have done it, but it would have taken a lot of money and time.”
Schoenfeld, who has a Ph.D. in animal genetics from Cornell University, is also the director of the Egg Science Center at the University of California, Davis. The center’s goal is to help scientists understand how eggs and embryos develop, and how the eggs and embryos can pass on the genes they have produced to the next generation of chickens.
Schoenfeld has spent the past two decades trying to figure out how to breed chickens for larger eggs that can withstand the heat of the sun and the cold of the frozen wastes of the frozen tundra and the harsh winters of the northern climes.
“I think we’ve learned more about what it takes to produce large eggs from chickens than we ever could from any other species,” Schoenfeld says. “It’s not just the eggs that are getting bigger,” he says. “We’ve also noticed that the chickens are getting larger, too.”
But, he notes, “it is also true that there are a lot of things that can go wrong when you try to produce large eggs, and there are a whole lot of people who are trying to do it.”
In the past, Schoenfeld says, the saurians had only been seen in northern Europe. “I’ll be honest, we didn’t take the first reports of saurian characteristics seriously.”
“Like everyone else, I remember seeing that first raptor on the news,” Schoenfeld recalled sadly, “a small group of saurian mutations escaped the regular culling at an Australian farm, fleeing into the outback where they eventually grew to adult size.”
Schoenfeld is of course referring to the famous incident from late 2019 when wildfires raging throughout Australia forced wildlife into heavily populated areas. A trio of raptors went on a multi day killing spree that resulted in seven deaths before they retreated into the wilderness.
The loss of habitat caused by the wildfires and resulting reduction in wildlife populations has resulted the wild population of raptors regularly foraying into urban areas in search of food. Government efforts to control and reduce the growing number of raptors so far have been unsuccessful, with many drawing comparisons to the early phases of the Great Emu War of 1932.