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Postchicken Studies by thomastapir Postchicken Studies by thomastapir
Another idea I've entertained for over a year and a half but which I'm just now getting onto paper. To wit, future genetic modification of avian livestock leads to two distinct forms of transgenic chicken: the 4-legged "drumstick chicken" and the 4-to-6-winged "hotwing chicken." After the extinction of humanity, and perhaps all other large mammal forms (ironic transgenic bird flu, anyone?), the modified chickens disperse to repopulate vacant ecological niches, rapidly evolving into diverse specialized forms. Hilarity ensues.

These sketches depict several different "postchicken" forms, moving roughly from more basal to more divergent forms as we proceed through the alphabet.

A: Feral, flighted, "hexwing" form, with the first wing pair having evolved into flashy display devices
B: Feral "quadwing" form, converging on the role of hereditary Vietnamese jungle fowl in rainforest habitats
C: Feral "drumstick" form, likewise converging on a traditional peafowl role
D: Derived flighted "hexwing" with third wing pair evolved into display devices, converging on extinct psittacines
E: Ground-running "hexwing," converging on contemporary roadrunner or secretary birds
F: Derived omnivorous "drumstick" form, converging on prehistoric phorusrhacids
G: Even more highly derived and possibly piscivorous "drumstick" with specialized display wings
H: The "Picky Chicken": a highly derived flightless, ground-dwelling, "hexwing" form occupying an insectivorous role
I: Flightless, polar, marine/aquatic "hexwing" converging on extinct penguins

Obviously there are all kinds of crazy directions to go with this idea. The "hexwing penguins" alone could be an entire project. There is also a lot I'd like to do with the four-legged F/G-style variants as they become more derived: I'm picturing quadrupedal flamingos, spoonbills, pelicans, and herons, most or all having lost or atrophied wings, and resembling nothing so much as a second radiation of dinosaurs. Taking that theme further could obviously lead to "drumstick" sauropods, elephants, giraffes, and the like. On the other hand, retaining and accentuating the wings could lead to a true hexapodal bird lineage (returning the hexwing penguins to land could result in the same scenario via a different evolutionary pathway). And of course there are all the insane and beautiful plumage and decorative soft-tissue possibilities for even the most basal, "jungle fowl" members of the clade: Bulwer's pheasants, satyr tragopans, peacocks, etc. etc. I'll have to see where it goes.

I credit Alexis Rockman's painting "The Farm" ([link]), featured in Peter Ward's nonfiction treatise "Future Evolution," as the inspiration behind this concept.
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:iconroflo-felorez:
RoFlo-Felorez Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2011  Student Digital Artist
wow this makes so much more sense than the evolution idea i had for griffins :O
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2011
Feel free to exploit them for exactly that purpose if you'd like...I'd love to see what you come up with! :)
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:iconbabbletrish:
babbletrish Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2010  Professional Traditional Artist
Very cool and a little unsettling too.
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:iconplatypus12:
platypus12 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
Those are some very fascinating chickens! :D
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
Thank you! But are they....EXTRAORDINARY??
[link]
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:iconplatypus12:
platypus12 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
Yes they are extremely EXTRAORDINARY! :nod: And they look like something one would see in the #Age-of-Avians Project! :D
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
Hah, cool group! Thanks for linking me to it, I haven't seen one exactly like that before...
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:iconplatypus12:
platypus12 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
You're welcome! :D What did you think of my group?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
Oh, is the bird thing your group? It's cool, I like it! If I had more birdy stuff I might petition for membership. :)
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:iconplatypus12:
platypus12 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2010
Great! :D And yes, I am the founder of the group. :D My love for birds is so strong that I imagine a world where birds are the dominant life forms and the mammals are once again the secondary life forms, just like they were back in the Mesozoic Era. So I came up with this project. :D
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:iconbensen-daniel:
bensen-daniel Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2010
Really cool.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2010
Thanks! :)
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:iconkerroperro:
KerroPerro Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
I want I (hexwing) to be real... it's just way cool!
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2009
Thanks, I'm glad you like it! :)
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:iconsphenacodon:
Sphenacodon Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2009
Heh, I assume all of these evolved from free-range chicken? They've obviously got wings in good working order. What about the chickens engineered to be flightless, sessile blobs of meat?

All of those ideas are awesome (as usual), and I love where this could go. I mean... four-legged avian sauropods roaming the prairies? Whee!
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2009
The Chickie-Nobs unfortunately became extinct due to lack of mobility ([link]). :/

You caught me on the overdeveloped wings! :lol: Maybe they decided to put a little meat on the Hotwings. Or maybe in the process of genetic tinkering some of the old genes for functional wings (and teeth and tails and claws?) got turned back on--that could lead to some interesting possibilities later down the road.

Or six-legged, or eight-legged sauropods, even! :boogie:
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:iconsphenacodon:
Sphenacodon Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2010
They could still have formed some symbiotic relationship with mobile chickens, a la Dougal Dixon. They get fed, the smaller chickens peck meat off them. Or something.

Possibly. Would fully flight-capable chicken wings yield more meat than regular ones? Alternatively, could chickens re-evolve flight on their own, or are their wings too stunted for that to happen without genetic intervention?

With feathers??? You get :iconepicbadge1plz::iconepicbadge2plz:
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:iconkerroperro:
KerroPerro Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Surely those chickens will be engineerd into giant mats of meat soaking in a nutrient bath?

Not my concept btw, sounds horrible!
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:iconsphenacodon:
Sphenacodon Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2010
The horror! The horror!
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:iconm0ai:
M0AI Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
In my opinion, this is the most exciting new project (or, at least, concept) that you've posted in quite a while. It is just brimming with possibilities, just brimming, I say. What you have here is the possibility for an entirely new era of hexapodal and octapodal vertebrate life. We've all speculated and imagined how it might have been if the first vertebrates to emerge onto the land had been hexapods or octopods. This project approaches that possibility space from an entirely new direction. These creatures are so full of exciting potential. Just think if, in one of these forms, a pair of wings converted into weight-bearing limbs. I read in the description of one of Lexlothor's spec evolution deviations that a hexapod vertebrate could grow 50% larger than a tetrapod. So, you have the potential for super-postchickens half again as large as the largest sauropod. I don't know about you, but I find that terribly exciting.

Moving from concept to art, you've got some nice shapes going on here, particularly in F and G. I'm loving the curves going on in G, and F's stance is wonderful. Powerful, watchful, still now but brimming with barely-contained energy and speed. That's all suggested to me in the pose; I think it's a good pose.:)

As an aside, I'd like to share with you one of my favorite pet speculative evolution scenarios, which is, coincidentally, also based on the chicken. I don't know if you've ever been to the island of Kaua'i, but the island is freakin' infested with feral domestic chickens. You trek to the remotest heart of the island, barely known to white man, and you still hear roosters crowing. They outnumber people by a good margin. I often wonder what would become of them if the humans on the island vanished. They're already basically wild and have flourished to the point of being the dominant terrestrial vertebrate of the island, so there's no risk of them going extinct any time soon. I imagine that these chickens would radiate and diversify without humans around to bother them. You'd have large, terrestrial forms, and perhaps quicker predatory forms. Though Kaua'i is more than 100 miles from the rest of the Hawai'ian island chain, it's possible that some of these postchickens would find their way to the rest of the islands. Or, perhaps the resident chicken populations of those islands would diversify themselves. However, the rest of the Hawai'ian islands also have introduced populations of mongooses (mongeese, I like to call them), so mongoose predation would put different selective pressures on the chicken populations of those islands.
Then, you also have the feral populations of peafowl, and the nene, the native Hawai'ian goose, which are both already large and highly terrestrial. I'm sure they'd evolve into something interesting as well.

But anyway...Very exciting drawings, once again.:)
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2009
Thanks a million, Cory! I'm glad you see the same potential in these that I did...It makes me even more excited about following up on some of the possibilities. :) Yeah, that potential for native terrestrial hexapodal and octopodal vertebrate forms was one of the major options I wanted to explore...It's an idea I'd toyed with for the Tetrays, thinking that their muscular cephalic lobes could morph into a true tertiary limb pair, but that seemed like a pretty tortuous transformation; here, it seems almost like an inevitable eventuality. And again, that point about additional limb pairs supporting a larger body size makes the possibility even more exciting.

It's pretty eerie that you mention the Hawaiian islands, as the concept behind these guys potentially dovetails with a Hawaiian setting. Yet another idea I've played with for quite a while is dealing with just ONE geographically limited and isolated future environment and kind of making that an evolutionary testbed; it seems like a manageable scale for a book or other such project. I was especially attracted to tropical islands, as I like those settings environmentally speaking and they also tend to produce unusual size disparities and morphological variations; and the environment I hit on was the emerging Hawaiian island of Lo'ihi ([link]). What could be more exotic than an evolutionary petri dish of transgenic life forms living on a known tropical island that doesn't even exist yet?? Even if I don't end up using it for the Postchickens, I think it's another setting with a lot of creative potential.

Thanks again for all the great feedback! :)
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:iconfractalxavier91:
fractalxavier91 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
With no large herbivores, there would be an increase in plant life. And that would mean higher oxygen concentrations, which presumably means bigger bugs.

Insect mimicking hex-wings?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Student General Artist
Hexwing-mimic insects???
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:iconfractalxavier91:
fractalxavier91 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
That too!
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:iconchimpeetah:
Chimpeetah Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
Wow, this has to be one of my favorite of your deviations ! I love the idea of how our GE could affect the Earth's future animals. Imagine the rest of the possibilities, hell and with these chickens we could even get real life flying griffons. But imagine what other possibilities could arise with our other GE'd animals, 6 legged lambs, actual unicorns and uni-goats to protect themselves from those pesty coyotes or wolves, biluminesent pets...Whatever else you could think of !
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
A griffin possibility occurred to me, based on C alone! As well as the obvious avian and reptilian mythical creatures--cockatrice, basilisk, etc. At the moment I'm intrigued by the idea of exploring the extent to which they might converge on dinosaurs. It just seems like there are a lot of both mythological and natural historical possibilities for these guys, and for other forms of GE life, as you point out. (Ever read the book "Oryx and Crake"?) Thanks for the feedback!
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:iconchimpeetah:
Chimpeetah Featured By Owner Dec 7, 2009
Awesome ! And I never read the book but from the synopsis it sounds like a great read !
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:icondoodlebotbop:
Doodlebotbop Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
Now the big question: Do they all still taste like chicken? XD

I love seeing where your imagination goes with all this kind of stuff! It would be really fun to see some colored postchickens too. :3
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
They do! With a healthy dollop of Buffalo sauce for the "hotwing" variety, even. :)

I do have some colored versions on my "to-do" list.

Thanks!
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:icondoodlebotbop:
Doodlebotbop Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
The terms 'hotwing' and 'drumstick' also amused me quite a bit. Very witty there.

You're welcome!
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:icongiggarex:
Giggarex Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
I was wundering when you would finally get to this done. This is amazing!
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
Thank you sir! I suspect this is only the beginning, though. :)
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Student General Artist
PICKY CHICKENN!!!!!

My first thought on seeing these was that there shouldn't be multiple-wing chickens, only 'drumsticks,' but your explanation solved that immediately. Plus, it really shouldn't matter ... the transgenic nature of the chickens could be sue to a FEV and who's to say which FEV would be more successful, the drumstick or the hotwing strain? Plus, it would probably be relatively easy for a drumstick virus to mutate into a hot wing virus.

Ok, you need to officially have an 'imperial chicken' or something with both multiple wings and legs.

Where are chickens from originally, by the way?
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
Let's all do the Picky Chicken!! :boogie:

I was thinking of the basal Postchicken forms as the result of direct genetic manipulation rather than a GE virus, but certainly the possibility of viral gene transfer opens up all kinds of awesome possibilities, including the transfer of multipedality to other Classes (remember the "spider monkeys"?) or at the very least your "Imperial Chicken" (which sounds like it would taste great with hoisin sauce!). And some sort of mutated GE retrovirus would also be a great explanation for the "avian superflu" that wipes out mammalian life but to which the hotwing and drumstick chickens are ironically immune.

I've always heard that chickens are a domesticated form of Vietnamese jungle fowl, though it sounds like there's some debate about their exact pedigree: [link]
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Student General Artist
Also, Chicky Knobs!
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
[link]
"Makes you wonder what kind of chickens they are using over there...Hmm."
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Student General Artist
over where? :D
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
Taiwan...? :?
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:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Student General Artist
Also, [link]
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
I think I'm going to have to go with blog respondent #1:

"this is the nastiest thing i have ever seen in my life and the fda approved this mess. i bet they don’t let their families eat this crap!!!!!!!!!! that’s just sick and we allow our children to eat this junk, too. i will no longer buy hotdogs!!!!!! in the name of Jesus i pray for those who know about this and don’t spread the word. how do the workers deal with this mess? do they sleep well at night?"
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(1 Reply)
:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Student General Artist
I meant, where did the guy think the chickens were coming from in his article ... aren't they in S.Carolina or some such thing? Chicken here is spiced in a certain way that I didn't like at first but now am enjoying. A lot of food has a sort of savory quality to it that I normally wouldn't associate with said foods ... ham & cheese pastry with glazing on it, for instance.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
Huh, I'm not sure...That's a good question! I don't imagine the chickens were coming from TOO far away. S. Carolina seems like a pretty chicken-intensive place.

Glazed ham 'n cheese pastry actually sounds pretty good! As long as it's not mechanically separated.
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(1 Reply)
:iconwhalewithlegs:
whalewithlegs Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Student General Artist
Hmm, that makes sense. I had always wondered where they were from & they didn't seem entirely African of Chinese. How they get to Europe & survive there so well has always baffled me :)
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:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Professional General Artist
This is fantastic.

I really do like the idea of extra-limbed chickens. Another thing I though of was engineering a chicken to be bigger.

Me, I call em "octochickens" ;)
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
Hah, awesome! :lol:
Now what would that be, a chicken with four arms and four legs...?
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:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Professional General Artist
Theoretically, yes. But I just use it as my word for chickens with multiple appendages.

Have you ever seen any photos of chickens that have actual supernumary limbs? It's quite interesting.
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:iconthomastapir:
thomastapir Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009
I have! It's pretty fascinating, and inspiring. My favorite is Stumpy the Duck. :)
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:iconpristichampsus:
Pristichampsus Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2009  Professional General Artist
Indeed. I have some sort of strange artistic fascination with that sort of thing, be it humans or animals. I had a friend in highschool who was an albino.
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