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Question Your World: What Came First, The Chicken Or The Egg?

Science is the process by which we can ask and answer questions about our natural world. Everything from our most routine activities all the way to the quest for our universe’s origins are fair game for the field of science! So, lets put science to the test and answer an age-old question: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Listen to the latest Question Your World Radio Report from the Science Museum of Virginia.

So without the egg there would be no chicken, right? However, at the same time without the chicken would there be an egg? Well, actually, yes there would be. This is the story about the long and detailed process of evolutionEggs are used by any species that sexually reproduces. So to trace back the history of eggs we must look back at some of the earliest species that sexually reproduced.

First of all, some of the earliest eggs date all the way back to early sponges, literally hundreds of millions of years ago. After millions upon millions of years of natural selection on mutations and variations, an early avian species was produced. We’ll call this a “proto-bird.” This early bird laid eggs that would, again after generation upon generation of natural selection, turn into a wide variety of bird species. 

One of those bird species was what we could call a “proto-chicken,” meaning it was some variation of what we know as a chicken, but not exactly what we have available on Earth today. Well, that “proto-chicken” laid eggs and eventually the species started to morph and change slowly due to natural selection. And voila, an egg was laid that would hatch and give birth to what we now know as a chickenThe egg allowed for the chicken to be born.

Now, why that chicken crossed the road is a whole different story all together.

Article by Prabir Mehta, Science Museum of Virginia

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