Stories tagged chicken

Apr
13
2011

Half the chicken she used to be: Checking with a scale today, we've discovered Nefertweety has lost about half of her body weight through the mummification process, going down to 1.75 pounds from her starting weight of 3.5 pounds.
Half the chicken she used to be: Checking with a scale today, we've discovered Nefertweety has lost about half of her body weight through the mummification process, going down to 1.75 pounds from her starting weight of 3.5 pounds.Courtesy Mark Ryan
Summer is coming. Do you need help fitting into that swimsuit or other short, summer clothes? Then try the chicken mummy weight loss program. Call 1-800-CHICKEN-MUMMY and for the low, low price of $19.95 you can learn the ancient secrets of how to lose half of your body weight in just 33 days!!!!!

Okay, we’re really not encouraging anyone to wrap their body in natron (that combination of salts used inside and outside of organisms you want to mummify) for a month to loss major amounts of weight in one month’s time. But that’s exactly what has happened to Nefertweety, the chicken we are mummifying here at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

With this week's check of the bird, we brought a scale to measure the impact of what a month's worth of mummification work has done to the bird. The 3.5-pound fresh, store-bought chicken we had at the start of the process has now reduced down to 1.75 pounds. And she appears to be flattening out even more.

Chicken mummy uniforms: You must be wearing light blue in order to work on a chicken mummy on a Tuesday.
Chicken mummy uniforms: You must be wearing light blue in order to work on a chicken mummy on a Tuesday.Courtesy Mark Ryan
When we greeted Nefertweety today, her smell was not as noticeable as it has been in the past, but it’s still there. Less smell means we're getting close of the end of the mummification work. Poking around, it appears that some of the, um, rear tissues are still being slow to mummify. That darn chicken butt just doesn’t want to mummify. (BTW: I believe the last time I said the words “chicken butt” in succession was in fourth grade.)

We’re going to give Nefertweety another week to finally work through her final mummification issues and hopefully have a fully mummified bird next Tuesday. You can learn more about this whole project by following this link to our Making a Minnesota Mummy section of the Buzz, including how to mummify your own chicken at home.

Not a chicken eating a spider. But a giant spider eating a dead chicken. More photos here.

Seriously, what more do I need to say?

Apr
13
2007

Two years ago, everyone was talking about the work of paleontologist Mary Schweitzer: she noticed that thin slices of a 68-million-year-old fossil femur from a Tyrannosaurus rex looked like they still contained soft tissue. (See photos of the bone.) Using antibodies to the collagen protein, she showed that the bone still contained intact collagen molecules—the main component of cartilage, ligaments, and tendons.

Hello, dinos?: A new study shows that preserved collagen from a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex is similar to that of chickens. (Photo courtesy Danelle Sheree)
Hello, dinos?: A new study shows that preserved collagen from a 68-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus rex is similar to that of chickens. (Photo courtesy Danelle Sheree)

She used antibodies to a type of collagen extracted from chickens. The fact that the antibodies stuck suggested that T. rex collagen is similar to that of birds. And when she compared the preserved soft tissue to that of modern animals, the closest match was an emu—a flightless bird.

To learn more about the collagen in the T. rex bones, Schweitzer worked with John Asara, a chemist at Harvard University, to analyze it using mass spectrometry.

The Economist describes the technique this way:

This technique identifies molecules (or fragments of molecules) from a combination of their weight and their electric charges. Knowing the weights of different sorts of atoms (and of groups of atoms that show up regularly in larger molecules, such as the 20 different amino acids from which proteins are assembled) it is usually possible to piece together fragments to form the profile of an entire protein.

When Asara compared the profile he'd created to proteins from living animals, the closest matches were to chickens and ostriches. (Schweitzer and Asara's study was published in the April 13, 2007, issue of the journal Science.)

Many paleontologists already believed, based on fossil bones, that birds are dinosaurs or their descendants. But this new paper provides even more evidence of the fact.

Buzz stories on the subject from last year:

Recent news articles: