Chickens began being domesticated in China about 8,000 years ago, far earlier than in the rest of the world,according to a recent study on fossils uncovered in north China's Hebei Province.
Archaeologists said they had unearthed 116 fossil specimens from 23 types of animals, including pig, dog, chicken, tortoise, fish, and clam, at the Cishan Site, a Neolithic village relic in the city of Wu'an.
Several bone fragments were identified to be from domesticated chickens, said Qiao Dengyun, head of the Handan Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.
"The chicken bones found at Cishan are slightly larger than wild jungle fowls, but smaller than that of a modern domesticated chicken," said Qiao.
Qiao said the bone fossils date back to 6,000 BC, earlier than the oldest domesticated chicken previously discovered in India that dated back 4,000 years.
"Most of the bones were from cocks, indicating that ancient residents used the practice of killing cocks for their meat and raising hens for their eggs," said Qiao.
The Cishan Site, which dates back 10,000 years, was first discovered in the 1970s. At the site, experts have found remnants of China's oldest cultivated millet as well as walnut shells, a discovery that challenged the popular belief that walnuts had been brought to China from what is now Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Central Asia.