CHICKEN LIVES FOR A YEAR AND A HALF. WITHOUT A HEAD. TRUE STORY.
When something is dead, it’s dead. It is a cliff, that once fallen off, can not be scaled again.
But is it… really?
For your consideration, I give you Mike the Headless Chicken. While this might sound like a headline ripped from your trashiest news rag, this is essentially the headline from a highly regarded US publication in the 1940′s that covered this story (LIFE with Mike the Headless Chicken: Photos of a Famously Tough Fowl, to be exact. Time Magazine also covered this story.)
The media has published hundreds of photos, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, and hundreds of people had viewed this marvel. This was by no means a fabrication– this fowl survived without its head for 18 months.
On September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita, Colorado, made a poor attempt at beheading a chicken for dinner, and left the decapitated chicken body with most of its brain stem. The bird, though clumsy at first, was eventually able to perch and preen and attempted to crow, though the crowing consisted mostly of a gurgling sound made in its throat. Olsen cared for the bird by feeding it with an eyedropper and small grains of corn through its neck hole.
Mike the Headless Chicken eventually became a celebrity in sideshows, earning the owner a significant amount of money. Of course, as could be expected, copycats were attempted, but none were successful. It was truly lightning in a bottle.
Mike died in a less dramatic fashion. He actually choked to death on a piece of his food. I guess he also couldn’t perform the international sign for choking (which is holding your hands together under one’s chin. Without hands and a head, that would have been difficult).
This is a good example of central motor generators enabling basic homeostatic functions to be carried out in the absence of the cerebral cortex.