Following the discovery of a previously-unknown set of skeletal remains in Stratford-upon-Avon, the United Kingdom, a team of archeologists has announced that the famed poet and playwright William Shakespeare was likely much more bird-like than the historical figure has traditionally been portrayed as.

“For decades, everything from science textbooks to popular culture has depicted Shakespeare as a bipedal mammal covered in normal human skin,” explained lead investigator Marcia Starr. “But this new evidence turns that image on its head, instead suggesting that he had feathers, vestigial wings, and a beak in place of a mouth.”

Although movies like Shakespeare in Love and Anonymous have popularized the notion of a humanoid Shakespeare, 3D models created by the researchers instead imagine the Bard of Avon as an eight-foot-tall human-avian hybrid with inverted knees, talon-like fingers, and — in place of both genitalia and an anus — a feathered cloaca. “Shakespeare was an egg-layer for sure,” Starr remarked. “If these findings are valid, his spot on the genetic family tree is much closer to that of the common pigeon than of [fellow Elizabethan playwright] Christopher Marlowe.”

The findings have sent shockwaves through theater communities worldwide, with protests erupting outside Starr’s Cambridge laboratory as well as the Globe Theater in London. Angry fans, holding signs reading “Bard Not Bird” and “Hamlet =/= Chicken Scratch,” have called for a retraction of the research findings, even as others insist that the author’s plays and sonnets hold up regardless of whether a birdman monstrosity wrote them.

Shakespeare’s last living relatives declined to comment on the matter, responding only with an angry squawk before hanging up.

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