19 Mar 2014

Archaeologists crack answer to chicken migration

6:18 am on 19 March 2014

Archaeologists from Australia's Adelaide University believe they may have cracked the answer to the question of how the chicken crossed the vast expanse of the Pacific.

Earlier genetic studies had suggested chickens were probably brought to Polynesia by travellers from South America, but this latest study, using DNA samples from ancient and modern bone samples, may put this theory to rest.

One of the researchers, Dr Vicki Thomson, says the Pacific chicken is genetically unique and the findings will allow scientists to reconstruct the migratory patterns of their human carriers over a thousand years ago.

"Well there's actually a reasonable level of diversity in the mitochondrial control region of chickens worldwide and there's actually quite a lot of archaeological remains in the Pacific so it made it a good species to look at."

Dr Vicki Thomson from the University of Adelaide.