Demosthenes Spiropoulos

The Egg Came First

March 29, 2018 - Volume 3, Issue 20

I was recently asked by a friend the legendary philosophical question... Which came first: the chicken or the egg?

My answer was prompt, surprising them. It was also thorough and fundamentally sound, especially when I gave two different explanations for my answer (which was "egg" if you didn't gather that from the title). 'Twas so hefty an answer that my friend's response was, "I'll never ask that question again, and now I have the answer if someone asks me."

Because I'm a giver, I will share my sage answer with you now.

Chicken vs Egg

Explanation 1:
    The egg came first because eggs were being laid by all sorts of creatures before chickens even existed. Reptiles, fish, and other non-poultry birds all lay eggs. Since we did not specify the type of egg, and are just going off exact wording of the query, the egg appeared millennia before the chicken.

Granted, this is the low-hanging fruit of answers. But then I got downright scientific...

Explanation 2:
    Ok, assuming we are keeping our ova in the chicken genus, I still maintain the egg came first. As evolution plays out, proto-chickens will eventually become modern-day poultry. If we take the hypothesis that the dinosaurs that survived the mass extinction event, theorized to have occurred in the Yucatan, would slowly evolve into birds, my answer starts to bear fruit. It's commonly believed that chickens, as we know them, originated in south Asia. One could speculate that smaller raptors, which scientists are now concluding to have had feathers instead of scales, that lived on the other side of the world from the Yucatan incident would continue to evolve in a suddenly and drastically altered environment.

    It wouldn't be outrageous to suggest that these raptors (who were still laying eggs) changed over tens of thousands of years. Take what we know of raptors, not the larger movie versions, and we could plausibly project an evolutionary path where they get a little smaller, stay closer to the ground, and become herbivores. This change would take several generations, but it could absolutely happen.

    As raptors become proto-chickens, they'll keep laying eggs until one day, evolution works it mojo and what we would consider a modern-day chicken hatches out of an egg. Ergo, the egg came first.

Obviously, it was spur of the moment when I dropped this answer, so my science may not be perfect. However, the general concepts are still sound, and if presented to an actual scientist (preferably with a background in biology, paleontology, or genetics), they'll probably agree with my assessment.

I invite you to use my answers if you ever get asked this question. It's official, the egg came first.

Chicken vs Egg

Did I need to do a deep dive on avian evolution when being asked a philosophical question? The better question is... would you expect anything less from me?

Thanks for visiting. Love, Demosthenes Spiropoulos