This year, the MTA Science Department has teamed up with the Orthodox Union (OU) to assist in the OU’s Mesorah Project. This project is attempting to breed less common kosher birds and establish a mesorah, or a reliable tradition,regarding the kashrus status of these different varieties of birds. Mr. Chayim Goldberg, our new chemistry teacher and a trained shochet, brought us six Coturnix Quail, which are native to Europe, Africa, and Asia. Four of them are the common variety (light brown) and two are the rarer dark “Tibetan” quail. We are attempting to breed them in order to prove that the Tibetan quail (which were actually bred in the USA from other domesticated quail) are indeed a variation of the same species and not a different species, thus proving that they are kosher. We also have two Bobwhite Quail, which look similar to Coturnix quail but are completely unrelated. They are native to North America, cannot breed with Coturnix Quail, and are thus not kosher. They provide an example of convergent evolution, in which unrelated species develop similar features as adaptations to similar environments. None of the quail have started laying eggs yet, but they are providing much avian entertainment and a hands-on Torah U’Madda experience for our biology and chemistry students.

 

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