Mar 5, 2010

Which comes first- the chicken or the egg ?

This seems to be like one of those unanswerable questions. If the chicken came first, then didn’t it hatch from an egg? And if the egg came first, wasn’t it laid by a chicken.

Still, there are answers and it depends on what you believe in. If you believe in God and the Bible, the first chapter in Genesis says that on the fifth day, God created chicken with every other fowl. So, the chicken came first.

If you believe in science and the theory of evolution, eggs, those miniature incubators of life evolved more than 1 billion years ago, in the oceans of the earth. When land animals evolved about 250 million years ago, the eggs had a tough covering to retain moisture on dry land. Now, genetic material does not alter during an animal’s life. It does, however, change in the egg. Therefore, the first bird that evolved into what we would call a chicken, probably in prehistoric times, must have first existed as an embryo inside an egg. So, the egg came first.

However, which came first is not my concern. As you can see from the title of this piece, I am interested in how the chicken comes out of the egg. I mean one way or the other, the egg has to break for the chicken to come out. Now, it is risky for the mother hen to stamp the egg with its feet or break it with its beak. The chicken may be forced to undergo emergency surgery immediately after birth. The chicken itself is too tiny and helpless inside the egg to try and break it from inside. The question is who will break it.

I found my answer in a standard fourth science book. The solution is so neat you want to salute the love and care of God if you believe in one or the practical intelligence of the power that drives us all.

Just before a chick is ready to hatch, a horny growth called the “egg tooth” develops on the top of its beak. The egg tooth is hard enough to cut the shell. The chick turns its body within the egg and chips the shell with the egg tooth until the shell cracks from the inside and finally breaks open at its broadest part. Parent birds just watch in fascination and do not help to break the shell, but they often carry away the pieces of shell when the chick is free. The egg tooth drops off a day or two after the chick hatches! So, you are provided with a built in tool just for the period when you need it most.

By logical extension, this intelligence of the creative force of existence would definitely take care of each one of us and provide us with whatever we need at the right time for our own good. So, maybe the best strategy is to just surrender and relax.

However, the hen does not have any idea about the future of the egg. Whether it will get life or tawe pe fry hoga!


  1. Shekhar Veera said...
    Cool Post!!! Evolutionary pressures always provide for efficient solutions, not necessarily the best always, but nevertheless very sustainable and convenient. I enjoy reading your write ups!!
    Suresh said...

    Nice to hear from you and nice to know that you like my writings. Hope to reconnect with you by email.
    gopakumar said...
    Heavy!!! Evolution theories with a bit of philosophy, but being intellectually challenged all this blog evokes in me is a craving for chicken fry!
    Jazzy said...
    Thanks Suresh for the valuable information on the most debated topic of causality dilemma & evolution. However, u mentioned that u found the answer in a standard fourth science book, which unfortunately I couldn’t find in my neighbor’s kids fourth standard book. Which syllabus did u refer?

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