Chickens are not native to the Americas, and until quite recently, scientists assumed that they arrived with the Spanish. Now it appears that Polynesian chickens beat the Spanish chickens to the Amerindian cook pot by a hundred years or more. Chicken bones found by archaeologists in Chile have been radiocarbon dated to between 1304 and 1424. As Live Science reports:
DNA extracted from the bones also matched closely with a Polynesian breed of chicken, rather than any chickens found in Europe. . . .
The chicken DNA suggests at least one group did make the harrowing journey across the remaining stretch of Pacific, Matisoo-Smith said.
â€œWe cannot say exactly which island the voyage came from. The DNA sequence is found in chickens from Tonga, Samoa, Niue, Easter Island and Hawaii,â€ Matisoo-Smith said. â€œIf we had to guess, we would say it was unlikely to have come from West Polynesia and most likely to have come from Easter Island or some other East Polynesian source that we have not yet sampled.â€
The results are detailed in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The chicken in the photo is a plain old Rhode Island Red. When I did an image search for Polynesian Chicken, the only ones I found were already cooked!