jungle fowl

jungle fowl

jungle fowl, common name for small, terrestrial wild fowl comprising four species in the genus Gallus. Most important of these is the red jungle fowl, which Charles Darwin determined to be the ancestor of all domesticated fowl. It is the only wild fowl that can crossbreed fertilely with domesticated species. It is yellow-headed with a red comb and wattles, and its multicolored plumage resembles a jester's costume. The female is slightly smaller and less brightly colored than its mate. Jungle fowl are found in large numbers from India through S China and the Malayan archipelago, where they inhabit thickly wooded areas. They feed on a diet of seeds, buds, fruit, and insects. The polygamous males are highly aggressive (the modern game cock is thought to be the domestic form closest to the ancestral species) and they take no part in nest building, incubation, or the care of the young. From archaeological evidence, it would seem that the jungle fowl was first domesticated in India as much as 5,200 years ago and that by the 6th cent. B.C. it had entered Europe. The jungle fowl is classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Galliformes, family Phasianidae.

The Saipan Jungle Fowl is a breed of domestic chicken. Not a true jungle fowl, it was found on the island of Saipan. It is thought to have been brought into The United States of America by returning American servicemen at the end of World War II including B. W. Saylor, who wrote "The Saipan Jungle Fowl" in 1977. Although the birds encountered at that time were both domesticated and wild on Saipan, it is thought that the wild ones were feral and decended from those brought in by the original human inhabitants. An alternative theory is that they were brought in by the Japanese as occurred in other locations such as Taiwan during the Japanese colonial occupation.

The "Saipan" bird is tall and upright, resembling the Malay, the Shamo, the Asil, or other oriental gamefowl, that are Asian in origin. The Saipan is either pea combed or flat combed and is absent of wattles, having a simple dewlap instead. The rooster is most often Black Breasted Red and the hen Wheaten in color, but there are variations such as white and other color combinations. It is known to have been used in cockfighting and is often bred into strains of gamefowl.

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