Chicken and Egg - a Rational Answer Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Chicken and Egg - a Rational Answer

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Which came first?

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

This question is often asked, but rarely answered. Chickens come from eggs, and eggs come from chickens. You just can't say which came first, can you? The purpose of asking the question is usually to show that it is difficult to determine the origins of things. A feud between two families, or even two countries, can go on for generations and it is impossible to attribute it to any one event or action. Rising prices can be caused by workers demanding more money, but the workers demand the money because of the rising prices. Another 'chicken and egg' situation.

But to get back to the chicken, biology is in fact in a position to answer the question. We are all different from our parents. If you trace the ancestry of a humble chicken back through history and pre-history, tracing family trees, tracking down that elusive great-grandparent, you will eventually reach a point where the bird concerned can not be called a chicken. If you go back far enough, it is not even a bird. (Remember, the ancestors of birds were a type of reptile). So there must be a point where the chicken baby had two non-chicken parents. Let's call them protochickens. The protochicken mother laid an egg out of which hatched a chicken. The first chicken came from an egg, but that egg did not come from a chicken; it came from a protochicken.

The answer to the question is therefore:

The egg came first.

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