Rumpless and tufted

Encountered in my set of Beautiful Farmyard cards yesterday: the rumpless tufted araucana, a breed of chicken. Wonderful name, odd-looking bird:


(It comes in many colors.)

From Wikipedia:

The Araucana, also known in the USA as a South American Rumpless, is a breed of chicken originating in Chile. The Araucana is often confused with other fowl, especially the Ameraucana and Easter Egger chickens [the Easter Eggers are so called because of their colorful eggs], but has several unusual characteristics which distinguish it. They lay blue eggs, have feather tufts near their ears, green legs and yellow undersides to their feet. Conversely, the Ameraucana has blue-slate to black legs and either black or white on the undersides of the feet.

To comply with the North American standard they must have no tailbone and so are rumpless whether or not they have a physical tail.

The ancestors of the modern Araucana chicken were purportedly first bred by the Araucanians (Spanish exonym for the Mapuche) of Chile—hence the name “Araucana”. The Araucana is a hybrid of two South American breeds: the Colloncas (a naturally blue-egg laying, rumpless, clean-faced chicken) and the Quetero (a pinkish-brown egg layer that has a long tail and prominent ear-tufts)

So rumplessness came from one breed and the tufts from another. Why anyone wanted a bird that combined both these features is a mystery to me, but then animal breeders often take odd paths.

The tufts turn out to be especially problematic. From Wikipedia again:

When the Araucana was first introduced to breeders worldwide in the mid-20th century, the genetics that produced tufts were recognized to also cause chick mortality. Two copies of the gene cause nearly 100% mortality shortly before hatching. The tufted gene is dominant, however. Because no living Araucana possesses two copies of the tufted gene, breeding any two tufted birds leads to half of the resulting brood being tufted with one copy of the gene, a quarter being clean-faced with no copy of the gene, and a quarter of the brood dead in the shell, having received two copies of the gene.

In the decades to follow, most breeders took one of two tacks — either to preserve the old style of bird, or to breed out the tufts while increasing productivity.

2 Responses to “Rumpless and tufted”

  1. Bob Richmond Says:

    I think this malformation may have been induced by the well known teratogen noacetol.

  2. Swallow-bellied and furry | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] A blog mostly about language « Rumpless and tufted […]

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