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Found: The gene mutation that causes bearded chickens

It’s not an aesthetic choice, but a gene mutation that causes some chickens to have tufts of facial feathers that resemble beards, NPR reports. Scientists found that bearded chickens had multiple copies of the gene HOXB8, whereas nonbearded chickens had only one, according to a study published yesterday in the journal PLOS Genetics. The gene was found to be highly expressed in chickens with beards, but not expressed at all in nonbearded ones. Aside from hipster credibility, the researchers don’t believe there is any evolutionary benefit for the beards.