Finally, an answer to the Chicken or the Egg question.

This is one of the things I love about science. It can take a relatively silly question like the old one about whether a chicken or an egg was first to come into existence and apply a little thought to it along with our understanding of theories such as evolution and put forth an answer to a seemingly impossible question.

Check it:

What I like most about this video is how it points out how ambiguous the original question really is: The answer depends in part on how you define your terms. It also highlights one of the problems with dealing with reality when we have a tendency to think in absolute terms.

Thinking in absolute terms is one of the problems I think Evolution deniers have. “I’ll believe in evolution when I see a dog give birth to kittens” is one of the common arguments you’ll hear from them. Evolution doesn’t work that way. It’s the result of the accumulation of small changes over long periods of time.

In the evolution of, say, the wolf into what we know today as the domesticated dog there’s no one point along the line where you can point and say that’s definitively where it stopped being a wolf and started being a dog. It doesn’t help that there isn’t a “line” to point to because pups in a litter are not clones of each other. Each one has its own small mutations that make it slightly different from its parents and siblings. Each batch of pups starts a bunch of different potential branches which, depending on if they survive and manage to breed themselves, produces that many more potential branches with their own mutations. That’s why we call it “the tree of life” and not “the single file line of life”.

Given enough time you will eventually get different, but related animals. Given even more time you’ll get much more different animals that can be difficult to tell are related to something in the past (e.g. birds being the descendants of dinosaurs). That’s apparently hard for a lot of people to wrap their heads around. Hence you get silly questions like: Which came first? The chicken or the egg?

1 thought on “Finally, an answer to the Chicken or the Egg question.

  1. This has always been obvious to me. The egg came from an animal that was not quite a chicken. The chick that hatched was a mutation, and what we would call a chicken.

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