Why did the Chicken Cross the Channel?

by Harry Miller January 22, 2016

Being a prime tourist location, Greenwich Market is a fantastic place to share Daniel’s illustrations with people from across the globe, and I always find it interesting to see how people from different cultures relate to the various animals.  As you may guess, the likes of dogs and cats are universally popular, but like abandoned pets in a rescue centre, there’s a home for every creature in The DM Collection; so which feathered friend do you think frequently gets to travel across the English Channel to France?  The magnificent Rooster, or ‘Le Coq Gaulois’!

But why do the French like the Rooster so much?  Well, it all started in ancient Rome, when one of their historians, Suetonius, noted that the latin translation of Gaul, (gallus), had a double meaning, as not only did it translate as inhabiter of France, but it also means cockerel, or rooster.  Over the ages this play on words stuck to the people of France like glue, but what really propelled the rooster up to emblem status, was when it was pictured on the flags as a symbol for the French Revolution.  Today you’ll see Le Coq Gaulois proudly displayed on the shirts of their national ruby and football teams, and fearlessly strutting his stuff alongside the touchline as the French mascot.

Sure enough, this bold and beautiful fowl is certainly an animal to be proud of: but hang on a minute, has anyone ever stopped to think where roosters and hens actually come from?  Well, it turns out that these domesticated fowl are actually related to a bird known as the Red junglefowl, originating in South East Asia.  Noted for their steady supply of eggs and palatable meat, it is said that they first started to domesticate the junglefowl over in India, as far back as 3200 BC: and if we go back even further – and I mean a lot further – we discover that the Red Junglefowl is(drum roll please) … is … the closest living ancestor to the Tyrannosaurus-Rex!

So who are you calling ‘chicken’!?

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Harry Miller
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