Ancestor (Jungle fowl) Original Gouache 37.5cm x 48cm

Peter’s Inspiration: “I used gouache in this portrait to render the bright contrasting colours, iridescence and sharp-edged feathers of the bird. Gouache also works well to show the texture and play of light on the foreground branches and leaves”.

Junglefowl are recognisably the ancestors of the familiar domestic chook, which has diverged from its origins much as dogs have diverged from wolves. In wild junglefowl, females are patterned in discreet shades of brown, but adult males have spectacularly coloured feathers, often iridescent, and long plumes used in displays. They also crow just like barnyard roosters.  Male junglefowl have evolved to look so spectacular because they compete to attract the attention of females, but growing and carrying this weight of conspicuous plumage is costly. Young males must learn to survive and thrive for the time it takes to grow into the breeding plumes of an adult. These feathers are moulted and re-grown annually, a process that demands a lot of energy and makes the birds easier targets for predators. Accordingly, a male in full breeding plumage is a walking signal of success to a female, showing it’s a strong healthy bird that has the genes to be a good father.

Original painting by Peter Marsack

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