(Warning: Graphic images in the article)
Have you ever heard of the headless chicken that lived for 18 months? Can’t be done you say, must be a hoax say others.
Seventy years ago, farmers Lloyd Olsen and his wife, Clara, killed 50 chickens, but one survived, and it just kept running around, and around; it did not want to die so it seemed. “They got down to the end and had one who was still alive, up and walking around,” said Troy Waters, great-great grandson of the couple.
So Olsen made the decision to take headless Mike on tour. He soon became famous and was featured in Time magazine and Life. Olsen said Mike was a “robust chicken—a fine specimen of a chicken except for not having a head.”
So how is it possible? “You’d be amazed how little brain there is in the front of the head of a chicken,” says Dr. Tom Smulders, a chicken expert at the Centre for Behavior and Evolution at Newcastle University. Smulders said around 80 percent of the chicken’s brain was not affected in the beheading.
“Most of the bird brain as we know it now would actually be considered the brain stem back then,” said Smulders.
“He took the chicken carcasses to town to sell them at the meat market,” Waters told BBC News.
“He took this rooster with him—and back then he was still using the horse and wagon quite a bit. He threw it in the wagon, took the chicken in with him and started betting people beer or something that he had a live headless chicken,” said Waters’s wife.
Waters once asked Olsen if he enjoyed his time traveling with his headless chook. Walters recalled the conversation and said: “He said, ‘Oh yeah, I had a chance to travel around and see parts of the country I probably otherwise wouldn’t have seen. I was able to modernize and have farm equipment.’ He still farmed the rest of his life, scratched a living out of the dirt.”
Whilst news of a headless chook is incredible, it was also a shock to many who read the story. One Facebook user wrote: “Animals should be killed quickly and with the least amount of suffering.”
Whilst another wrote that the owner “took the chicken to the vet but the vet said since the pain receptors were in the severed half of the birds brain and unconnected there was no possible way for the chicken to be suffering.”
But then again, one person left this message: “Not really that suprizing, many a congress members have survived years without using their heads.”
Watch the video here:
Photo credit: Getty Images.