Mike was an ordinary chicken like most others, but that changed one fateful day in 1945 when he was due to be dinner for his owner. He became known as 'Mike the Headless Chicken' who amazed the world after surviving for nearly eighteen months after having his head cut off. This is one of those cases that captivates anyone who hears it. But let’s start from the very beginning, in order to truly tell the tale of Mike, the amazing headless chicken.
It was September of 1945, and a man named Lloyd Olsen had just been sent out to butcher a prized chicken in preparation for a meal that was to be served to his visiting mother-in-law. Said mother-in-law loved the neck of the chicken, to her it was quite the delicacy. So, as Olsen carefully prepared the spot where he would sever the chicken’s head from its neck, he made sure to leave enough neck space for his mother-in-law to enjoy. He made the cut and what happened next was extraordinary. The chicken at first staggered around like more freshly terminated poultry do, but after a few minutes, the chicken was still stumbling around and Olsen was confused. The bird should be dead, but there it was, alive as ever trying to figure out how to prune it’s feathers and pick up grain.
It was then that Olsen realized he had something special. After about a week of Olsen attempting to feed the chicken, later identified as Mike, with an eyedropper of grain and water, he transported the chicken over two hundred miles to the University of Utah in an attempt to glean some answers about his weird, but fascinating headless chicken.
Scientists were able to determine that the trajectory of the axe blade that Olsen used had caused him to miss the jugular vein, preventing Mike from bleeding to death after having his head cut off. Even more amazing, Olsen’s head severing cut had left most of the chicken’s brain stem and even one ear left on his body, despite the fact that his head now rested in a jar. These remaining vital organs are what allowed Mike to live as long as he did, minus a head. The brain stem allowed for control of his reflex actions, which if you didn’t know, is a vital part of being alive.
But Mike didn’t just survive as the first headless chicken in those 18 months after his beheading, he thrived. He had started out as a mere two-and-a-half-pound chicken, quite normal in size but at the end of his life, he ended up weighing nearly eight pounds. Olsen and Mike, during those last eighteen months of life, traveled the US, stopping in New York, Los Angeles, Atlantic City and San Diego. People came from all over to pay twenty-five cents to ogle at the headless chicken wonder known as Mike. Eventually, Olsen even insured the chicken, valuing him at almost ten thousand dollars. This fame and fortune even gained Mike recognition in the Life and Time Magazines. His story is surely one that will live on for years, even now that Mike the headless chicken has followed his head to the grave.