“The Chicken or the Egg?”

By: Sofia Rodriguez

At some point in your life, you must have wondered what came first: the chicken or the egg? The question seems to be stuck in an endless loop of dependency, but with a bit of science, the answer is clear. The real question we should ask is what constitutes something as a chicken egg, its contents or what it gives birth to?


It’s a question as old as time itself: “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” #bigquesitons. Philosophers and scientists have asked this question for generations, but have never been able to say which is correct conclusively. The cyclical nature of the question has left humanity wondering what truly came first. When the Oxford English Dictionary tried to solve the case, exploring which word has a longer history, it produced no definite answer #MerriamWebsterisbetter. According to an 1825 English translation by François Fénelon, Aristotle even weighed in on the subject matter: “There could not have been a first egg to give a beginning to birds, or there would have been a first bird which gave a beginning to eggs; for a bird comes from an egg.” Aristotle himself was tentative about how he should answer this question, escaping having to explain it by saying that both went infinitely backward and had always existed. But this question is still just as relevant now as it was when the ancient Greeks questioned it.

Team Chicken

Team Chicken likes to argue that the OV-17 protein needed to form the hard shells of the chicken eggs can only be found in chicken ovaries. Without this protein, chicken eggs would not be able to develop in the way that we know them. Therefore, the chicken must have come first. This allowed for man to have chicken tenders on the first night of creation and #brunch with some poached eggs, avocado toast, and orange juice on the second day of creation. #foodforthought

But, the first OV-17 laying chicken could have not just appeared from thin air. This makes us question: What makes a chicken egg? Is a chicken egg an egg that holds a chicken or an egg laid by a chicken? “If two elephants mated and produced an egg that hatched a lion, would it be considered a lion egg or an elephant egg?” (ASAP Science) #informationthrowdown

Team Egg

Team Egg then likes to argue that because of evolution and inevitable mutations made during DNA replication as a zygote (the first cell of a developing organism) created a new species that we now classify as a chicken. This means that two genetically similar animals (that we could call pre-chickens) mated and produced a chicken, which means the egg came first because the egg is classified by its contents rather than what/who gave birth to it.

Yet and still in this scenario, a person could argue that this was merely a chicken in a pre-chicken egg, which means the egg is classified by who/what gave birth to it rather than its contents. #schooled


In conclusion, on a technical scale, the first chicken must have come from an egg, so the egg did come first (except in dictionaries, where chicken comes before egg!), whether it be classified as a pre-chicken or chicken egg. The oldest fossils of dinosaur eggs and embryos are about 190 million years old. Archaeopteryx fossils, which are the earliest animals generally accepted as birds, are around 150 million years old. This means that eggs indeed did come before chickens. Yet, in the scope of just chickens and or pre-chicken/chicken eggs, we could draw the line as to what constitutes a chicken or a chicken egg anywhere because the scale of evolution over a time period is so small. From research, however, we do know that it was sometime in the range of 7,000 years ago. That’s #old! But because of this large time scale and inability to define what exactly a chicken is and where it began, it deems the question in of itself, arbitrary to answer. No wonder the #worldrecordegg is so popular…

#science #earth #biology #evolution #thechickenortheegg #teamegg #teamchicken #eggFTW #eggvschicken #time


ASAP Science. (2018, January 24). Which Came First - The Chicken or the Egg? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a8pI65emDE

Brayer, M. (2013, February 11). Finally answered! Which came first, the chicken or the egg? MNN. Retrieved from https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/stories/ finally-answered-which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg

Consiglio, D. (2018, January 31). Which Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg? Here's The Official Scientific Answer. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2018/01/31/which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg-heres-the-official-scientific-answer/#c0985ff8ab8d

Fabry, M. (2016, September 21). Now you know: which came first, the chicken or the egg? Time. Retrieved from http://time.com/4475048/which-came-first-chicken-egg/

Villazon, L. (n.d.). Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Science Focus. Retrieved from https://www.sciencefocus.com/nature/which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg/

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