When you’ve got it, flaunt it: Beards can occur in various chicken breeds. The birds in the middle have them, the ones on the far left and right don’t.
Courtesy of Ying Guo
Move over, human hipsters, you’re not the only ones growing outrageous facial hair.
For years, farmers have noticed that some chickens have tufts of elongated feathers around their face and beak, making it appear like they had grown a beard. The cause of the feather beards was a mystery. Now, thanks to scientists in China, the mystery of the bearded chicken has been solved.
The answer appears in a study published in PLOS genetics on Thursday. Chinese scientists compared the DNA of bearded chickens to non-bearded chickens. The results led them to investigate a gene, HOXB8. Bearded chickens had multiple copies of HOXB8 and surrounding genes. Non-bearded chickens only had one copy of HOXB8.