The Chicken or the Egg?

At our weekly staff meetings to determine attendance, the Writing Center asks us to write our names and an answer to a mundane question on a piece of paper. This past week, the question was: “What came first? The chicken, or the egg?” Although it wasn’t the most interesting of questions, I decided to look into this answer for my blog. The question has been long discussed by philosophers, but many of their answers have been marred by religion and the idea of creationism. According to the Bible, God created the world and all the creatures on it, so clearly the chicken came first!

REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

…And those creationists may be right, though obviously for a very different reason.  A paper written by British scientists entitled, “Structural Control of Crystal Nuclei by an Eggshell Protein” concluded that the chicken had to have come before the chicken egg. The specification is because the scientists stressed that the creation of eggs came well before chickens evolved. That being said, in order for a chicken egg to occur, the protein ovocledidin-17 had to be involved in the process. This protein is found specifically within the ovaries of a chicken. The researchers came across this discovery simply by studying the development of a chicken eggshell itself. Because of this means of discovery, we can conclude that, at the very least, the development does not suffer from the Texas Sharp Shooter problem. The researchers were not looking specifically as to how the chicken could come before the egg, and merely stumbled upon the importance ofovocledidin-17 in the egg-shell making process. The current hypothesis of scientists as to how this process occurred is that a chicken-like creature hatched a mutated egg that was fully-chicken.

Like most science related questions, this answer is a bit of a cop-out in terms of just how much it actually resolves the question at hand. However, without the ovary protein of a chicken it’s simply not possible for an egg to occur – sufficiently answering the age-old question for me.

2 thoughts on “The Chicken or the Egg?

  1. Brett Alan Merritt

    It’s very interesting how the scientists came about this discovery. Do you think the discovery could have been made earlier if scientists did not go into an experiment expecting a certain result? If they did that and got a different result, this question may have suffered the file drawer problem for years.

  2. Arianna L Del Valle

    This is really interesting and can put some minds at ease! I recently wrote a blog post ( on why chickens can’t fly, and the research led me to discover that chickens aren’t natural. They’re actually the result of selective breeding of the red junglefowl and the gray junglefowl (which are birds as well). This led me to wonder whether these junglefowls have special proteins, if not the same, like chickens do in order for eggs to form.

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