Human-chicken Hybrids

Page 3: Reports

EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS, ΦΒΚ

Caution: Some readers may find this page disturbing.

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Reports

Human Faces

Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev’n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine.
John Milton, Paradise Lost

This webpage is a compilation of reports describing a variety of ostensible human-chicken-hybrids with human faces.

chicken-human hybrid


Quite a few newspaper reports refer to ostensible chicken-human hybrids. A chicken with a human head was reported (accompanied by the illustration at right) on the front page, column 7, of the August 26, 1896, issue of the Edgefield Advertiser, a newspaper published in Edgefield, South Carolina (source). The same story and picture appeared in many American newspapers that year.

A Human-faced Hen

    One of the strangest freaks of nature has been unearthed by a New York resident in a New York market. It consists of a human-faced hen, which he found in a lot of 10,000 chickens which had been brought to New York from Michigan. The hen is a Plymouth Rock. It’s eyes are set below beetling brows. The chin is double and the nose resembles that of a man. Several of the claws have fingernails.
    The fowl is said to be a decided epicure, spurning the corn which generations of its ancestors have considered wholesome, preferring moistened bread and cake. The present owner of this strange freak intends keeping it with the view of ascertaining whether the odd markings are transmitted by it to its progeny.

The following, which is from the previous year and seems to refer to a different animal, appeared on page 3, column 4, of the January 19, 1895, issue of The Daily Morning Journal and Courier, a newspaper published in New Haven, Connecticut (source).

A FREAK OF NATURE

A Chicken That Bears Many Marks of
Resemblance to a Human Being

    Max Levi, a barber at 71 Congress Avenue, last Thursday afternoon bought a chicken that was taken from a crate that came from the west. He paid seventy-five cents for it on Oak Street and took it home without examining it carefully. When he arrived home he found that he had unwittingly purchased an extraordinary freak of nature.
    The front of the face has the same formation to that of a human being, with a small nose, distinct nostrils, lips and very small ears and with a tongue like that of a snake. It is quite long and it shoots out every little while like that of a snake. The claws instead of being like those of ordinary chickens are shaped like fingers of a human hand, with nails growing on them. This interesting freak of nature was visited by crowds yesterday. He intends to put it on exhibition throughout the country.

Two hens with human faces are referred to in the following article which appeared on page 3 of the April 27, 1891, issue of the South Wales Echo, a newspaper published in Cardiff, Wales (source). It cites the Stock Keeper, which is probably the The Stock-Keeper and Fancier’s Chronicle, a periodical for breeders published in London. (This periodical is available at the British Library. If someone who could send me scans of the relevant pages it would b greatly appreciated.)

AN EXTRAORDINARY HEN

    Our readers (says the Stock Keeper) will remember that on March 14 last year we published particulars and illustrations of an extraordinary hen with a human face. Mr M. Davis, of 613, Commercial-road, London, E., called on us yesterday to say that there is now in London one of these strange creatures with a face like a human being, and toes similar to those of a man. The hen belongs to a Russian Jew now residing at 22, Church-lane, Whitechapel, who purchased it for 8d at Riga. It is now seven months old, and we understand that negotiations are taking place with the manager of the Aquarium for exhibiting it there. Mr Davis informs us that the plumage of the bird (if so it may be called) resembles no breed in particular, though in form it is somewhat like the Hamburg.

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A creature of similar ilk was reported on page 4, column 1, of the September 16, 1848, issue of the Sunbury American, a newspaper published in Sunbury, Pennsylvania (source). It reads as follows:

    We have heard, says the New Orleans Delta [a newspaper published in New Orleans, Louisiana], a good deal of talk during the last few days about a chicken with a human face at the house of Madame Martin, in Code Street near St. Philip. We paid no attention to the droll stories which we have heard, but at length we were so pressed that we determined to see for ourselves.—At the place mentioned we saw a chicken having, instead of a beak, a nose and mouth exactly conformed to those of a human face: the nostrils, the separating cartilage, the lips, tongue, chin are all there. It was indeed a most singular lusus naturae.

The following report, about the same creature as that described immediately above, appeared on page 3, column 1, of the August 9, 1848, issue of The Daily Crescent, a newspaper published in New Orleans, Louisiana (source).

    A Curiosity.—One of the most interesting living curiosities we have ever seen is now being exhibited at the house of Mr. Martin, in Condé Street, First Municipality. There is at this place a chicken of the usual form and appearance, with the exception of the head, which bears the most striking resemblance to the human head. Indeed, at first sight, it would almost be mistaken for the head of an old lady with grey hair. By what freak of nature this wonderful phenomenon was produced, we are at loss to imagine, and invite the curious to pay it a visit.

Condé St. is a former name of the stretch of Chartres St. that lies between Jackson Square and Esplanade Ave.

The following report appeared on page 4, column 4, of the November 1, 1910, issue of The Washington Times, a newspaper published in Washington, D.C. (source). The same story appeared in many newspapers around the U.S.

CHICKEN HAS HUMAN FACE AND BABY’S CRY

Remarkable Freak on Exhibition at Chicago Meat Shop

chicken-human hybridBrahma chicken
    CHICAGO, Nov. 1.—A chicken of the Brahma species, possessing human features and the cry of a baby, has attracted crowds of curious people to the meat shop owned by A. Elkins, 1342 South Sangamon Street, during the last two days.
    Elkins discovered the remarkable freak in a shipment of chickens from a South Side commission firm. He was about to kill the fowl when he noticed the peculiar shape of he head. Examination showed that the chicken had, in place of a beak, the nose and mouth of a human, and that its head was devoid of feathers.
    The chicken has ears, and the sound it makes is not unlike the wailing of a small child in distress.

Surprisingly, what seems to have been a second such animal had appeared in Chicago in the spring of that same year. The following report appeared on page 3, column 2, of the April 24, 1910, issue of Los Angeles Herald (source).

HEN HAS HUMAN FACE AND FEET LIKE BALLS

Freak Chicago Fowl Amazes Hundreds in Hotel

    CHICAGO, April 23.—Guests and employees of a downtown hotel last night were interested in a white hen that has features of a human being—a clearly defined nose and lips in place of the beak and mouth of a chicken and feet like knobs instead of claws.
    “The chicken is nine months old,” said Mike Singer, one of the hotel porters, who owns the fowl, “and is compelled to eat from the hand of a person, being unable to pick up food like other chickens. It cannot scratch and does not cackle. It has laid two eggs both of which were flat on one side, and of extraordinary size.”

The following is another report in which a chicken bore a resemblance to humans with respect to the mouth and nose, instead of the whole face. The story appeared in many U.S. newspapers, but this transcript was taken from on page 9, column 6, of the December 30, 1909, issue of The Spokane Press, a newspaper published in Spokane, Washington (source).

CHICKEN HAS A HUMAN FACE

GETS VERY DRUNK ON HUMAN BEER

    New York, Dec. 28.—“Anna” is perhaps the strangest hen in the United States.
    She belongs to William Kroehler, an eastside saloonkeeper, and he has refused offers of $15 a week to put “Anna” on the vaudeville stage.
    “Anna” hasn't any bill, but she boasts a mouth with lips, and a nose with nostrils. Nothing else on the face of the earth, that anyone knows of, looks like “Anna”
    The hen likes grain, but she cannot pick it up, so that it is necessary for Kroehler to feed her by placing the grain in her mouth.
    There is nothing domestic about “Anna” either. She is an eastside drunkard. Roosters and roosting places don't interest her, and she has never laid an egg.

A brief account of chicken with a human face—with the similarity limited, as in "Anna," to the nose and mouth—appeared on page 2, column 4, of the September 26, 1883, issue of The Columbus Journal, a newspaper published in Columbus, Nebraska (source).

    A wonderful freak of nature was on exhibition at the recent St. Joseph [Missouri] exposition, which was a chicken, with a human face—nose and mouth just like a person. We guess this is a reliable story.

A yet another case of a chicken with a human nose and mouth—this time only the head of the animal was displayed—appeared on page 8, column 4, of the March 26, 1908, issue of The San Francisco Call, a newspaper published in San Francisco, California (source). In this case there seems to be some confusion as to whether the similarity is specifically human, or more broadly mammalian.

A RENO CURIOSITY

    The Reno Journal describes a queer freak found and exhibited by W. E. Dent of Dent & Dahl, 257 North Virginia Street. It is a chicken's head strangely like a miniature head of a cat, monkey or, in some respects a human being. There is no beak or bill, but instead a perfect nose with nostrils and identical in formation to that of a monkey or a man. The mouth is likewise well formed, the upper lip or mandible being perfect while the lower is slightly bifurcated. There is none of the characteristic horny [i.e., keratinized epidermal] formation of a bill or beak, but on the contrary the inteument is flesh like and typical of the face of a man or beast.

Another report, which claims that a chicken was similar to a monkey rather than a human being, appeared on page A7, column 3, of the April 20, 1920, issue of the Los Angeles Herald (source).

MONKEY-LIKE HEN HAS NEITHER
BILL NOR CLAWS

    NEW YORK, April 20.—A black hen that looks like a monkey is the unique window display of a hardware dealer on Grand Street, Brooklyn.
    The hen has no bill and as a result its face strongly resembles that of a monkey. It has no claws, so that its feet also resemble those of a monkey. It spends most of the time climbing around its crate, which is three feet high and three feet wide. The hardware dealer said he bought the freak about three weeks ago from a poultry man in the neighborhood. He said he would not sell it because it has proved a great business getter.

In connection with this last described case, it should be mentioned that a different type of alleged monkey-bird cross has been reported, monkey x owl.

Since probable human-pig hybrids are often described as monkey-pigs, there may be a parallel practice in the case of chickens, so that it may be that human parentage is in question in the case of “monkey-like chickens.”

Another case of alleged monkey-chicken appeared on page 9, column 6, of the January 19, 1896, issue of the San Francisco Call (source). It reads as follows:

    One of the most interesting coops in the Tabernacle show is the one that contains the Kansas freak. The freak is a fowl that has a face like a monkey and the exhibit is labeled “monkey-faced chicken.” The chicken has no beak, but a mouth very similar to that of a monkey, and inside are a few teeth. It has a flat nose with nostrils and the facial appearance of the hed is that of a very small ape. Inside the mouth are a few teeth and it partly chews what it eats.
    The monkey-faced chicken is the property of W. H. Shear and is 13 months old. Mr Shear says it is a genuine Kansas freak and, although it does not belong to any class and can not be awarded a premium, it is an object of much interest.

And that same year of 1896 another reported monkey-chicken, this time in Washington, D.C., appeared in a lengthy story on page 6, column 6, of the February 28, 1896, issue of The Evening Times, a newspaper published in Washington, D.C. (source):

ROOSTER’S MONKEY FACE

Peculiar Freak of Nature
Owned in this City

“PETE” IS A PECULIAR BIRD

Hard to Tell Whether He is a Fowl or a Mammal—He Possesses a Nose and Club Feet Without Claws or Spurs—Makes a Noise Very Much Like a Dog.

    There is rooster in Washington which, though it was not seen at the recent poultry show, has as much claim to distinction as any proud bird exhibited there, and which is far more interesting than a chicken whose uncommon quality lies only in its blue blood and first prizes.
    This particular rooster happened as a freak when he made his initial appearance in the world and he now appears with the face of a monkey or other mammal and the body of a chicken.
    The freak is the property of a lady who lives at No. 407 G Street northwest. She thinks the world of his roostership and it would take a good round pile of the yellow metal to induce her to part with him.
    The bird’s full name is Peter, but this has been contracted and abridged for convenience sake to Pete.
    Viewed as a chicken, he is a cross between a Brown Leghorn and a game cock. But Pete’s eternal mortgage on notoriety lies in the fact that when looking at his head it is difficult to tell whether he is a fowl or a mammal.
    In fact, such a wonder is Pete, that a man like Prof. Garner, who has been in Africa conversing with monkeys, for the purpose of tracing the missing link, would go so far to see him, were he aware of his existence this side of Mars.

PETE HAS NO BEAK.

    Pete is not prepossessing at first glance, but upon closer acquaintance he becomes fascinating. He never had a beak like other fowls. At the point where that part of a chicken’s anatomy ought to begin, his head tapers off into a snoot that reaches hardly half as far from the base as the bill would reach.
    It is difficult to tell exactly what this face resembles. It really has more the shape of the nose of a rat than that of a monkey, but there is an absence of either hair or feathers on the upper lip and about the mouth that leaves the impression of the resemblance of the latter animal more than anything else.
    The mouth is long and finally leads off into the jaw in the same manner that the upper and lower sections of a chicken’s bill unite. The freak has a tongue like that of a parrot, and the only plausible reason why he could not be taught to talk is that the roof of his mouth is very soft, and would form such a poor sounding-board that his exclamations would probably be inarticulate. Still, it is believed that this defect will be helped by time, and that possibly it could be hardened by means of chemicals.
    The chin is very much like that of a monkey, and is clearly cut. Though large red combs are the peculiar feature of the brown leghorn family, Pete has little of one, and its brightness is not astounding.

NO CLAW OR SPUR.

    Another strange thing is that he has club feet, too. On the last toe of the left foot a small growth has started that looks very much like a nail. He has not a sign of a claw or spur.
    The owner is a firm believer in hypnotism and occultism. She is a thinker, and therefore Pete is calculated to arouse a more deeply seated interest in her than he does in the mere casual observer, who is filled with nothing but morbid curiosity when he turns his eyes in Pete’s direction.
    “We got the bird from the South, from Florida,” said she, “and I do not know exactly how old he is, but think he is about two years of age. Now, really, don’t you think he is a wonder?
    “Look at his head. You will see that it is much fuller than the head of the ordinary chicken. That would indicate that the convolutions in the brain are deeper than they are in the ordinary fowl. That is one of the chief distinctions in fancy fowls. The finer the breed the deeper the head and the smarter the bird. All animals are the same. The depth of the head and of the convolutions of the brain increase with intelligence in the animal kingdom.
    “While he has a very heavy coat of feathers, you will notice that there is no hair on his body at all like there is on other chickens. He sometimes seems to me to have the intelligence of a human being.

BARKS LIKE A DOG.

    “Pete sneezes instead of crows. The noise resembles very closely that of a baby when it sneezes. He never makes any of the sounds of the average chicken, but when frightened barks like a dog.”
    Just at that instant a stranger came into the room where Pete was on exhibition, and he set up a noise that cold be very easily reconciled to the barking of a dog. It was not the sharp, quick bark of the little rat terrier, but the more prolonged and echoing bark of the hound. When he had finished the lady coninued:
    “He finds difficulty eating any hard food, though he is quite fond of corn. He shows a preference for meat above all other food, however. If a handful of corn is held before him and a handful of meat placed close by, he will begin eating the corn, but will keep his eye riveted continually on the meat, and will enter a vigorous protest if any one tries to take it away. He swallows what he eats like any other fowl.”
    The owner has views as to how Pete happened. She explained them to the reporter, but they entered to far into the psychological and physiological world to be intelligently related in a newspaper article. She sees great possibilities for the bird.
    It is understood that the president of the prominent Democratic club in this city has visited Pete’s owner and offered an apparently fabulous sum for the bird as a mascot for the organization, but the offer was refused.

Yet another case of a monkey-chicken, this time with an organ grinder’s monkey in the picture, appeared in many U.S. newspapers in 1911. The following transcript is taken from page 6 of the April 25, 1911, issue of The North Platte Semi-weekly Tribune, a newspaper published in North Platte, Nebraska (source):

HEN HAS MONKEY’S FACE

New Jersey Fowl, Marked in Its Egghood
Days is Hatched Out a Real Nature Freak

    New York.—Moritz Adler has a country home and farm near Deal, N. J. He also has a Plymouth Rock chicken. He gave her a place in the backyard of the home, with a dry goods box for a coop.
    Though perfectly normal in every other way, Rose—that’s her name—has the shrewd face of a monkey. She drinks soup from a spoon held in the hand of her nurse. Having no beak, she does not peck at meat scraps, after the manner of fowl, but picks them up daintily with her strawberry-hued lips.
    The facial expression of Rose is piquant. She has a rather set expression at the corner of her mouth, indicating firmness of character. Her nose is well defined. Rising from her rather broad forehead is a pompadour of feathers in the style that young girls affected with their hair a year ago, when Rose was a smooth white egg instead of a remarkable chicken. The general contour of her face is somewhat like that of Susie, the funny little orang-outang from Borneo who delights children at the Bronx Zoo. Her snappy black eyes light up wonderfully when she sees cracked corn or oatmeal mush.
    “She was born a year ago, said Adler. I knew her mother well. She was a fine old fussy Plymouth Rock hen, who stuck steadily to the business of scratching gravel and producing eggs. She wasn’t quite as progressive as some of the more flashy Brown Leghorn and Indiana game young ladies of the barnyard. She didn’t take kindly to new-fangled ideas like women’s rights. Nothing made her so mad as to see some other hen strutting around and clucking about wanting a vote.
Capuchin monkeys White-faced Capuchins
Cebus capucinus
    “An Italian organ grinder passed the farm one day with a funny little South American monkey [organ grinder’s monkeys were usually capuchins]. He gave old Mrs. Plymouth Rock quite a fright. The old lady disappeared, and three weeks afterward [the incubation time of a chicken egg is tree weeks] under the haymow. Twelve little yellow chicks had just hatched out. The remaining egg was cracked, and something inside was peeping sadly. All the other chicks had pecked their way out with their bills, but this one was trying to get out and couldn’t.
    “I broke the shell, and then I saw why—it didn’t have any beak. And that’s the way Rose came into the world. Because she was a freak the head farmer’s wife took an interest in her and educated her, till now she is a lady all through. She talks all the time—her mouth is never still— and that’s what makes me think she was marked prenatally by the suffragettes of the barnyard. But there’s no way to tell.”

While all of the other cases collected on this page allude to beings with chicken bodies and human faces, one brief notice seems to allude to the reverse. It appeared on page 3 of the February 17, 1891, issue of The Indianapolis Journal, a newspaper published in Indianapolis, Indiana (source):

    Crawfordsville, Feb. 16.—On last Friday a number of movers passed through Crawfordsville, going from Kentucky to Dakota, who had with them a curious-looking girl, about five years old. The child had all over her head and neck what appeared to be chicken feathers, and when she would jabber, the sound she made would resemble a chicken. The only reason assigned for this strange freak was that her father was given a coat of tar and feathers some five months before her birth.

Crawfordsville is located in west central Indiana, about an hour west-northwest of Indianapolis.

A related cross >>

Bird-mammal hybrids >>

Other human hybrids >>

Table of contents >>

Bibliography >>

Biology Dictionary >>

By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).

bird-human hybrids Birds of Joy and Sorrow (Artist: Viktor Vasnetsov)


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