How the relationship between people and chickens has developed over the past 8,000 years is the focus of a new research project in the UK. 

Researchers from Bournemouth University, as well as from the universities of Durham, Nottingham, Leicester, Roehampton and York, will be examining when and how rapidly domesticated chickens spread across Europe and the history of their exploitation for meat and eggs. Research will include metrical and DNA analysis of modern and ancient bones to trace the development of different breeds. 

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The principal investigator for the project, Bournemouth University's Dr. Mark Maltby, comments: "This is a fantastic opportunity to work with a team of high international esteem drawn from a wide range of disciplines that includes genetics, cultural anthropology, history and archaeological science. We are united by our mutual research interests in how chickens and people have interacted in the past and present."

Work is due to begin in January 2014 and the research will be completed in 2017. The results will form the basis of a series of exhibitions in museums and other venues throughout the UK, making up "The Chicken Trail" that will tell the story of the chicken's domestication in Europe. There are also plans to display some of the research findings in butchers' shops.