Tasting like chicken: its evolutionary origins.

At least once a week, person tells me that some food other than chicken “ tastes like chicken. ” People throw the doctrine of analogy around constantly. Virtually any kernel that is pale in color, firm in texture, and lacking a strong spirit is subjected to the chicken comparison .
Why chicken ? It ’ randomness credibly at least in separate because most of us haven ’ thyroxine eaten very many types of kernel. The kernel universe of a distinctive american english carnivore is limited to chicken, turkey, beef, pork, and possibly lamb. That ’ s a reasonably narrow-minded survival in a world that includes more than 10,000 species of birds—let alone the rest of the vertebrate populace. ( And saying that things “ taste like chicken, ” it appears, is a distinctly american english habit. )
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The range of species I ’ ve listen compared to chicken, flavor-wise, is very broad across the evolutionary spectrum : assorted birds, of course, but besides snakes, lizards, small mammals, certain fish. Which made me wonder : Can we trace the sample of wimp back down the evolutionary tree to a common ancestor ? What was the first animal in evolutionary history that tasted like chicken ? And for how long in the Earth ’ south history has life been tasting like chicken ? Something had to come first, and I don ’ t think it was either the chicken or the egg .
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In order to answer this question, we need to start with chickens and work our way spinal column through the evolutionary family tree .
Does chicken sample like chicken ? Don ’ t laugh—this is an significant question. even lifelong chicken eaters normally have a very narrow experience because the birds sold in grocery store stores are normally one of a identical few breeds that have been designed to grow a set of breast meat very cursorily in factory-farm settings. A Plymouth roasting hen slaughtered for market at 7 weeks does not make for the like eating experience as a 2-year-old Rhode Island Red. I once ate a bantam cock that tasted more like common iguana than a grocery store shop wimp .
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I posed a interrogate for a group of friends on Facebook, asking them whether they thought Cornish game hens preference like chicken. Some of the respondents were diamond that the little birds have their own flavor and texture that hardly resembles chicken. What I didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate note when I asked the question was the fact that cornish game hens are merely ordinary chickens slaughtered at a younger age. Our idea of what chicken tastes like seems to be as informed by our expectations as by our palate .
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A consensus has emerged in the scientific community that chickens and other birds are probably the direct descendants of dinosaurs. I have lost many good nights of sleep wondering what diverse species of dinosaurs tasted like, but the fact is that we don ’ t have any left to eat. early than birds, the closest living relatives that we have to eat are the crocodilians, which date back to at least 250 million years ago .
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I have eaten alligators on respective occasions and have found that they can have a batch in common with chicken. Like chickens, their muscles are primarily easy kernel, which is made of muscle fibers that are well-suited for short-run bursts of speed and power. Tail kernel tends to be reasonably baffling ( except in a very young animal ), while the limbs are more tender. The best alligator meat I have always eaten was in a bar on the Gulf Coast of Florida, where the bartender brought out a tray of “ alligator wings. ” These alligator limb had been prepared identically to conventional Buffalo wings, and they tasted precisely like enormous Buffalo wings, with the most noticeable deviation being that the bones were less delicate. I figure this similarity dates the preference of wimp back at least 250 million years right there. ( This is assuming, of course, that the crocodilians of past didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate taste terribly unalike from the alligators of today. )
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Looking back even further on the evolutionary corner, modern reptiles are related to chickens through a group of animals known as diapsids, which originated around 300 million years ago. Modern snakes and lizards are both descended from the diapsids—and as it happens, I have had the pleasure of eating a courteous categorization of them : black spiny-tailed common iguana, k common iguana, and versatile snakes. What all of them had in coarse was a taste and a discolor after cooking that was like chicken, coupled with a texture evocative of crab meat. You wouldn ’ t mistake the texture of snake for wimp, but run it through a meat-grinder, and you wouldn ’ t know the deviation .
Another group of animals related to diapsids are the testudines : turtles and tortoises. Their claim evolutionary origins are murky, but what ’ randomness clear is that they taste like wimp. Raw snapping turtle kernel is multicolored, with person chunks mottled either red or white. But cooked, snapping turtle is indistinguishable from chicken to most palates. My 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son have enjoyed battered, fried “ capsize tenders, ” and they have deemed the meat identical to chicken. ( I agree. ) If it passes the taste screen of a busy 8-year-old, it credibly very does taste like chicken. ( possibly the ranch dressing helped. )
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What chicken-reminiscent beasts existed before the diapsids ? nowadays we must go way back in time to the inaugural vertebrates that lived on land : the early amphibians. We don ’ t have any good fossils of these earliest land-dwellers, but there have been some well-preserved amphibian footprints dating spinal column approximately 395 million years .
The only amphibians however around today split off from the early amphibians around 300 million years ago. Frogs, the archetypal contemporary amphibian, taste definitively like chicken. Their texture is flush like chicken. In a blind taste trial, I couldn ’ metric ton tell the remainder. White kernel, intercede texture, meek spirit : It ’ s all there. This, along with the taste of snakes, lizards, and turtles, implies that tasting like chicken has been around for at least 300 million years .
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Looking promote back in time to before the amphibians, we arrive at the fish. I ’ ve been told that many kinds of fish smack like chicken, but in commit I have never found this to be the case unless the meat is disguised in some way. only last week I fried some fresh haddock in a beer dinge and refrigerated the leftovers. The future good morning I found that the cold pisces tasted precisely like chicken—right up until I tried a bite without the bread. then it tasted like fish again. My brain had been confused by an out layer that reminded it of a wimp recipe .
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If there is one group of fish that can be considered more close related to chicken than the others, it ’ s the lob pisces. Lobed fish are the class of fish that are popularly thought of as a missing link—the creatures that first became adapted to spend clock time on state and finally evolved into amphibians. These types of pisces normally had fleshy fins with pronounce bones. They were identical common during the devonian period, but today lungfish and coelacanths are the only survivors .
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Coelacanths have barely changed at all in the last 400 million years, but they are endangered today, which deplorably takes them off the table. however, fishermen from islands off the coast of Mozambique used to eat coelacanths before scientists began paying them a agio for alive specimens. The fishermen described the pisces as greasy and said the texture of the fudge human body was unappetizingly soft unless it had first been salted and dried. This doesn ’ metric ton fathom like chicken at all .
lungfish are more appetizing to the western palate than the coelacanth but hush distinctly fishy tasting. One might cook with them interchangeably with pod or bass—but cipher will mistake the taste or texture for wimp .
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Why is this ? respective barriers prevent fish from tasting like chicken. A chemical called trimethylamine, which develops after a fish dies and creates that distinctly fishy flavor and smell, is a big one. texture besides plays a function : Fishes ’ brawn structure is different from chickens ’. fish muscles are typically arranged in bands along the sides of the body and are separated by relatively less conjunction tissue than what is found in the muscle of their evolutionary descendants. These bands of brawn are what make cook fish flaky. fish muscles are relatively dim-witted because all they have to do to move through water is perform a screen of sideways flopping movement. The muscles of land-dwellers like chickens, lizards, and frogs are more specialize and are designed for the more varied motion of individual limbs .
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Neither the coelacanth nor the lungfish is the evolutionary missing connection per southeast, but both are solid living representatives of the group of species that amphibians, reptiles, dinosaurs, and chickens are all descended from. If the lungfish or the coelacanth ’ sulfur kernel is example of lob fish in cosmopolitan, then we can surmise that kernel probably didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate beginning to taste like chicken until the conversion from fish to amphibians occurred .
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Pederpes finneyae, a Carboniferous tetrapod.
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The beginning know species to make that transition from water to land was Pederpes finneyae. P. finneyae appeared about 350 million years ago and was the earliest creature in the dodo phonograph record to have the forward-facing feet of a fully mundane animal. Assuming the conversion from water to land necessitated the complicated muscle structures we see in today ’ mho land creatures, then P. finneyae probably would have been an excellent campaigner for marinating in birdlime juice and coriander and then cooking and shredding for greaser .
then approximately 350 million years ago is credibly when life began to taste like chicken, proper when some lobed fishes had amply transformed into the beginning sublunar amphibians, like P. finneyae. It ’ second hard to imagine that this trait has had any advantage for the animals that exhibited it, given that the only situation in which flavor is expressed is when the organism dies. ( In fact, considering that we generally like the taste of wimp and go extinct of our way to kill chickens in order to taste them, you could say that tasting like chicken is a distinct disadvantage. ) But it would appear that the taste has however persisted for hundreds of millions of years. so possibly alternatively of saying that the adjacent pale, firm, balmy thing you eat tastes like chicken, you should say it tastes like Pederpes finneyae .