26 August 2008


This feather is probably from a gull, possibly a kittiwake.

It is probably not from a chicken*.

It is definitely not from Big Bird.

Nor from Robert Redford.

If none of this makes any sense to you, don't worry about it – just be grateful.

*For the original discussion of the “chicken” question, see here.


Julie Heyward said...

This post is a blatant attempt at gallus gallus domesticus rhinotillexomania.

The feather in question is obviously from a feather boa. Which, I will have to admit, would look dashing if worn along with rope sandals.

Felix Grant said...

Sorry to spoil your illusions, Julie, but ... boas don't have their own feathers! Their feathers come from birds...

Julie Heyward said...

I have seen feathers pop out of the pillow I sleep on. And there are no birds in there. Or if there are, they are very flat.

Poor Pothecary said...

boas don't have their own feathers!

Not even Quetzalcoatl - "The Feathered Serpent"?

Felix Grant said...

Julie Heyward: Note that the feathers emerge from within your pillow, they are not on its surface. You are seeing a process known to biologists as spontaneous generation, which also (for example) produces frogs from mud. In the case of fethers, they are spontaneously generated from the ear wax of carnivores.

Poor Pothecary: Nope ... I've often seen Quetzalcoatl out on Weston beach, at first light, mugging sleepy kittiwakes which are left confused and featherless.

Julie Heyward said...

No, no, no. Intercranial drainage of carnivorous earwax is what leads to rhinotillexomania -- there's none left for making feathers.

But frogs!! Yes! Yes! You are on the right track. Notice that they, like the boa, are entirely naked; stripped of their natural accoutrements. That's a sure sign of a species that has been forcibly defeathered.

Here's the backstory:

Way back when the dinosaurs were the ones crossing the road to eat the vegans, there were tons and tons of feathers and nowhere to put them all (they needed them for when the birds would show up ... whenever).

So anybody could have feathers if they wanted them. Frogs, boas, small round pigs (pigs could fly!); there were down parkas everywhere ... and still there were tons of feathers left over. So they put all the rest into pillows.

Now, when the birds did finally get around to joining the party, first of all they wouldn't let the dinosaurs have any vegans so that was that for dinosaurs. But they also took back all the feathers. That's why we invented Polartech.

Unfortunately, wearing Polartech caused overheating in frogs, boas, and small round pigs, so they have simply had to go naked.

Quick, what do you get when you put Polartech on a small round pig? (Ask little Adam for help.)
A hotdog!

What do you get when you put Polartech on a snake? Ummmm... (answer is not suitable for children -- ask (the other) Adam and Eve).

I notice that Felix appears to be wearing Polartech in his photo.