Sunday, April 3, 2016

A three-legged chick: a mystery that could perhaps be explained byscience

During one of my winter vacations in my uncle’s house in Samtse, everybody was taken aback when a hen hatched a 3-legged chick. With its three legs, it looked completely different from its siblings but its mother did not neglect it as we had expected. It enjoyed equal care and love from its mother as it grew up with other normal chicks. When I examined the chick, I found that it was able to use only its two legs to walk but the third leg was just an obstacle attached from just below its tail. It did not have any purpose there. It was just hanging down like a shovel and was in fact affecting its normal movement because whenever it tried to walk, it would get stuck on the way and hindered its free movement. I felt so sorry for the poor chick.

As the chick grew up day by day, people began to come up with various baseless theories about its unique feature. Some said it was a sign of bad luck in the family while others said it was a good sign. Meanwhile, my uncle had a more technical explanation. He suspected that the egg could have had double yolks which could have merged together in the incubation period and as a high school student, I found this explanation more logical and convincing. My vacation was coming to an end and I was eagerly looking forward to discussing this mystery with my science teachers in the school. Meanwhile, the chick was growing up in good health. It was able to walk and fly like other chicks except at times it would get stuck while walking. We had named it Bulldozer because it would drag whatever light obstacles on the way like dry leaves and twigs with its third leg as it walked. But one morning, we were shocked to find the chick dead in the coop. It had not suffered from any illness but for some unknown reason, it had died. We suspected that it could have been accidentally stamped over by its mother at night. I had badly wanted to take the dead chick to school to show it to my science teacher and preserve it in the science lab, but the date for my departure to school was still a few weeks away and I could not afford to preserve it for that long. So the mysterious chick had to be buried in the field. Later when I discussed this with my science teacher in the school, he too gave me the same explanation like my uncle. Although such unusual phenomena can be demystified by science today, it was a mystery for many people at that time.

I consider myself lucky because I know the opportunities to come across such unusual experiences are very rare in the world. . This experience has taught me how genetic programming can go wrong at times resulting in unique physical development of both animals and human beings. I have even seen in documentaries how one twin can merge into another and remain there as a lump of tumor. For instance, according to Washington Post, an Indian PHD student in the US was rescued in 2015 by doctors from her evil twin in her head. The tumor complete with bone, teeth and hair detected in her brain was found to be that of her twin sister that had merged into her body as they developed inside the womb. So looking at such phenomena, I have come to understand that such things are not impossible.

1 comment:

  1. This 3 legged chicken rang a bell as I remember seeing this similar exhibit in Shanghai, China. They used a real stuffed chicken with 3 legs in their exhibit with explaination about the massive pollution and contamination that caused damages to their habitats besides all the abnormal growths of animals and human beings in China. I wish that you could someday visit this Science Museum in Shanghai.

    I have blogged this place before with the photos of abnormal growths including this 3 legged chicken. You can view it in my blog's side bar under the title a China - Shanghai Science Museum.