Mankind's record with mangling animal DNA for our benefit is, as we've shown before, spotty at best. Usually, these goofy creations serve little purpose, other than embarrassing the poor animals and reminding them that we're at the top of the food chain and can screw with them just because we can.
This is no more evident than the many times we've humiliated birds. After seeing the myriad ways we've used science to fuck with our fine feathered friends, we're frankly shocked they haven't all turned into Hitchcockian horrors, seeking violent revenge on the pitiful humans who made them look this way. If you think we're exaggerating, take a gander at ...
Oh, come on, really? That can't be a bird. It looks like something a toddler hastily glued together after accidentally exploding a bird.
Amazingly, there actually is a living thing inside that mess of feathers, and its state is not the result of multiple little girls with untethered access to a curling iron, a blow dryer, and several packs of extensions. It's a budgie, and the reason it looks like a failed loofah design is because of a debilitating defect called feather duster syndrome. How does one get FDS? Inbreeding. Lots and lots of inbreeding.
Wild budgies, despite originating from Australia, are not gigantic hulking beasts bent on destroying everybody. No, they actually look pretty normal:
The Listening Earth
Wait, are they plotting our demise anyway? Oh, fuck you, Australia.
They're quite adorable, and have proven to be incredibly popular as household pets. However, wild budgies haven't been exported from Australia since 1894. They have to come from somewhere, though, so breeders have been encouraging incest ever since. Two-hundred-plus years of the ultimate family reunion? What could possibly go wrong?
Via Robinson Budgie Stud
While it doesn't happen all the time, feather duster syndrome causes the feathers, already curlier than on normal budgies, to keep growing and growing, until they look like the tiny bird-splosions you see here. Obviously, this is in no way beneficial to the bird; they can barely see, can't fly, could very well be deaf, and have the bird version of Down's syndrome. Add a compromised immune system due to the stress of growing out all these feathers, and we have ourselves a birdie that rarely lives for more than a year.
But that hasn't stopped pet shops from selling them, and for a very high price, because look at it.
Luckily (or not) online breeders have provided instructions on how to go about creating your own feather duster, like they're Pokemon or Chocobos. We hope you're up for breeding a new one every six months or so, because remember, they die quick.
GPO / Handout / Getty
OK, this is probably going too far in the other direction.
Unless you're a magical chicken that can somehow read Cracked articles, you probably have no use for chicken feathers. You can't eat them, and they're not strong enough to dip into a vial of ink and write an old-timey letter with. So why bother with the damn things at all? That's exactly what scientists in Israel must be thinking, as they have successfully bred a bunch of "bald chickens." They claim this will help farmers by saving time (no more plucking) and energy (no need to ventilate or air-condition the coop if the chicken has no chance of overheating), and it will help breed bigger, meatier chickens, since cool chickens tend to grow faster.
Which is all well and good, except they look like, well, this:
Getty Images / Staff
You can make your own cock joke. We're refusing.
So how did they create this bawking hellspawn? Well, apparently there is a gene that, when mutated, naturally produces featherless chickens. So, the scientists simply took one of these naked mutants, cross-bred it with a regular feathered chicken, and then cackled maniacally into the cold, dark night.
In addition to looking silly, naked chickens actually have a host of downsides. Due to their exposed everything, these chickens are largely unable to deal with cold, sunburn quite easily, and are a nice, ripe target for mosquitoes. If being unable to cope with much of the world's weather isn't enough, naked chickens have virtually no hope of finding a mate, since they use their feathers to flap their wings and look all macho and shit around the hens.
GPO / Handout / Getty
So mankind has been spared one nightmarish sight.
But hey, they're delicious, so they have that going for them at least. Naked chickens reportedly contain less fat (the feathers produce subcutaneous fat underneath the skin) and produce leaner meat. So if you have no issues with eating something that will haunt your dreams for years to come, by all means, chow down.
Once again, it may take a moment to work out what exactly you're seeing there. It's not a bird with its face buried in its wing -- that's its chest, and this is what it looks like all the time. It's a type of pigeon that is appropriately known as the Amsterdam balloon cropper (or Holle cropper). It's advertised as a "fancy" variant, because apparently being able to chew on your own stomach is just the fanciest thing imaginable.
Developed in Holland to look like "a round ball on legs," balloon croppers are mainly used as show birds, and are held to a very exacting set of standards in order to be considered a champion of the breed. Which is clearly something the bird strives to be. Points are given for carriage, body, color, and, most importantly, a spectacular sense of balance.
It's not so bad if they never, ever walk anywhere.
According to the Pigeon Club of Arizona, "It carries its body horizontally and stands on its toes in an alert jaunty manner with its head carried well back toward its tail. A vertical line through the eye falls behind the foot position." Because nothing says jaunty and graceful like a mutated spine that's been twisted into an ampersand. The club goes on to say, "The Holle cropper is a small, delicate, short but broad cropper with extraordinary grace and liveliness." Which is interesting, because in every single picture and video we've seen of the damn thing, it's just standing there, often with a terrified look in its eyes, like it's just realized what it is, and that death really needs to get a move on here.
Seriously, there's no way this bird can run off or fly away at the slightest sound, like a normal pigeon would. It can barely see past its own chest! So it's pretty much stuck there until its owner decides to move it somewhere else. Or tip it over, depending on how big of a dick the owner is.
The answer, 100 percent of the time, is "a huge one."