Backyard Dinosaurs

  1. GPS1504
    Many moons ago, I was introduced to a new resident at the barn where I keep my horses. His name was "Hoppy" and he was a retired fighting rooster, or so the story goes. No one knows what happened to him to bring about his retirement, but he moved with a distinct, hopping gait. He was purchased at a flea market at a discount due to this defect and bore all the physical adaptations of a true fighting cock. He wavered from being strangely tame to downright dangerous as one minute you could pick him up and snuggle him, then the next he was sabotaging you as you rounded a blind corner, spurring you until you were bleeding profusely.

    Odd fellow that he was, Hoppy surely had spunk. This rooster was into everything, like an all-seeing eyeball sent to watch over the farm. I watched him closely and never once did he spur me, although I was prepared to run at a moment's notice if he looked like he got the inclination. Lucky for me, that bad leg of his made him slow, so as long as he didn't sneak up on me, I stood a fighting chance at outrunning him.

    Why was this rooster such a savage little beast? Sure, he could be friendly, if it struck his fancy, but he could also be diabolical with all his attack plotting. Most likely, it goes back to ancestry and survival of the fittest. The strong survive, after all, and Hoppy was determined to survive, to be strong just as his ancestors were, which is why his species is alive to this day.

    Speaking of ancestors, we all trace back to something somewhere way back in time. Often our descendants come as a surprise, or even a shock. For example, recent research suggests that the chicken could possibly be the closest living relative of the ferocious Tyrannosaurus Rex. That explains a lot about dear Hoppy, as well as feisty chickens as a whole.

    Research conducted on a molecular level has provided evidence that present-day chickens are relatives of the long deceased dinosaurs that once roamed the earth. By using a leg bone from a T-Rex, a paleontologist by the name of Mary Schweitzer was able to retrieve and analyze several different proteins and what she found was a collagen makeup strikingly similar to that of a chicken.

    Of course, there is a catch. The comparisons of data that have led to this amazing discovery are subject to change because not all animals have undergone the same genetic sequencing. Because of this, there could be a closer match to the T-Rex that has simply not been catalogued yet.

    For now, however, the chicken holds the title of backyard dinosaur, and until that changes, they will undoubtedly wear their crowns proudly. I know Hoppy sure would.

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    Pictures is the iconic Hoppy, who in no way condones cock fighting.

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