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Researchers Discover Bin Chickens Used To Be Treated Like Gods In Ancient Egypt

Stewart Perrie

| Last updated 

Researchers Discover Bin Chickens Used To Be Treated Like Gods In Ancient Egypt

The bin chicken isn't viewed in the best light in Australia. The bird sports a long, black beak, as well as a small head, large body with white feathers and long black feet.

They're known among the masses as bin chickens because of their love of sticking that beak deep into rubbish bins and picking out anything that suits their appetite.

That usually ends up leaving an ungodly mess everywhere.

Credit: Stilgherrian/Creative Commons
Credit: Stilgherrian/Creative Commons

But while Australians might not love these strange birds, it seems like they were very highly thought of back in the day.

When we say 'back in the day' we mean a few thousand years in the past in Ancient Egypt.

The birds were so revered back in the day because they were considered to be earthly messengers of Thoth, the god of wisdom, who was depicted as a man with an ibis head, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Researchers from Griffith University have discovered that Egyptians used to keep wild populations of the bird around temples before turning them into mummies to offer them up to the gods.

Credit: Dr Sally Wasef
Credit: Dr Sally Wasef

The bin chicken has even appeared in some art works discovered in temples.

Their study has been published in PLOS One and it disproves a previous theory that ancient Egyptians would farm these birds so that they had loads to choose from when they wanted to mummify them.

But Sally Wasef from Griffith's Australian Research Centre for Human Evolution has told the Sydney Morning Herald: "When we looked at the genomes we could find any evidence that these birds had been domesticated or farmed.

Credit: Pedro Vizcaino Pina/Creative Commons
Credit: Pedro Vizcaino Pina/Creative Commons

"If you farm chickens, for example, the genetic variations within those chickens will be minimal, because you're keeping the genes in that pool."

"But when you compare those mummies to the wild population of ibsies which live in parts of Africa today, they're very similar."

They've discovered that Egyptians used to mummify around 15,000 ibises every year and would stuff each one inside a clay-looking vase and stored in the temple's catacombs.

Featured Image Credit: Stilgherrian/Creative Commons

Topics: Interesting, Community, Animals, Australia

Stewart Perrie
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