The story about chickens and egg, and who was there first obviously poses a serious dilemma. Chicken come from eggs, and eggs come from chicken. This is certainly true when viewed over small periods of time, such as our life time, the last thousand years, and the Iron Age.  Is the above dilemma a pertinent issue, when viewed over large time intervals? Not quite. But before I try to derive a clean scientific answer, let’s see what wikipedia.org has to say about chicken and eggs.

Chicken:

“ A chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a type of
domesticatedbird which is often raised as a type of poultry. It is believed to be descended from the wild Indian and south-east Asian Red Junglefowl.

With a population of more than 24 billion in 2003, there are more chickens in the world than any other bird. They provide two sources of food frequently consumed by humans: their
meat, and eggs.

Male chickens are known as
roosters (in the U.S., Canada and Australia), cocks, or cockerels if they are young. Castrated roosters are called capons. Female chickens are known as hens, or 'chooks' in Australian English. Young females are known as pullets. Roosters can usually be differentiated from hens by their striking plumage, marked by long flowing tails and bright pointed feathers on their necks.

However, in some breeds, such as the Sebright, the cock only has slightly pointed neck feathers, and the identification must be made by looking at the comb. Chickens have a fleshy crest on their heads called a
comb or cockscomb, and a fleshy piece of hanging skin under their beak called a wattle. These organs help to cool the bird by redirecting blood flow to the skin. Both the male and female have distinctive wattles and combs. In males, the combs are often more prominent, though this is not the case in all varieties.

Domestic chickens are typically fed commercially prepared feed that includes a
protein source as well as grains. Chickens often scratch at the soil to get at adult insects and larvae or seed. Incidents of cannibalism can occur when a curious bird pecks at a preexisting wound or during fighting (even among female birds). This is exacerbated in close quarters. In commercial egg and meat production this is controlled by trimming the beak (removal of ⅔ of the top half and occasionally ⅓ of the lower half of the beak).

Domestic chickens are not capable of long distance flight, although they are generally capable of flying for short distances such as over fences. Chickens will sometimes fly to explore their surroundings, but usually only to flee perceived danger. Because of flight risk, chickens raised in open-air pens generally have one of their wings clipped by the breeder — the tips of the longest feathers on one of the wings are cut, resulting in unbalanced flight which the bird cannot sustain for more than a few meters (
more on wing clipping).

Chickens are gregarious birds and live together as a
flock. They have a communal approach to the incubation of eggs and raising of young. Individual chickens in a flock will dominate others, establishing a "pecking order", with dominant individuals having priority for access to food and nesting locations. Removing hens or roosters from a flock causes a temporary disruption to this social order until a new pecking order is established.

Chickens will try to lay in nests that already contain eggs, and have been known to move eggs from neighbouring nests into their own. Some farmers use fake eggs made from plastic or stone to encourage hens to lay in a particular location. The result of this behavior is that a flock will use only a few preferred locations, rather than having a different nest for every bird.

Hens can also be extremely stubborn about always laying in the same location. It is not unknown for two (or more) hens to try to share the same nest at the same time. If the nest is small, or one of the hens is particularly determined, this may result in chickens trying to lay on top of each other.

Contrary to popular belief, roosters do not crow only at dawn, but may crow at any time of the day or night. Their crowing - a loud and sometimes shrill call - is a territorial signal to other roosters. However, crowing may also result from sudden disturbances within their surroundings.

Chickens are domesticated descendants of the
Red Junglefowl, which is biologically classified as the same species.

Recent studies have shown that chickens (and possibly other bird species) still retain the genetic blueprints to produce teeth in the jaws, although these are dormant in living animals. These are a holdover from primitive birds such as
Archaeopteryx, which were descended from theropoddinosaurs. “

Egg:

“An
egg is an ovum produced by a femaleanimal for reproduction, often prepared as food. Eggs are a source of protein.

Most edible eggs, including
bird eggs and turtle eggs, consist of a hard, oval outer eggshell, the "egg white," or albumen, the egg yolk, and various thin membranes. Every part of these eggs is edible, although the eggshell is generally discarded. Roe and caviar are edible eggs produced by fish.

Bird eggs are a common food source. The most commonly used bird eggs are those from the chicken, duck, and goose, but smaller eggs such as quail eggs are occasionally used as a gourmet ingredient, as are the largest bird eggs, from ostriches. Most commercially produced chicken eggs intended for human consumption are unfertilized, since the laying hens are kept without any roosters. Fertile eggs can be purchased and eaten as well, with little nutritional difference. Fertile eggs will not contain a developed embryo, as refrigeration prohibits cellular growth.

Chicken eggs are widely used in many types of cooking. Dishes that use eggs range from both sweet to savoury dishes. Eggs may be
pickled; hard-boiled and refrigerated; or eaten raw, though the latter is not recommended for people who may be susceptible to salmonella, such as the elderly, the infirm, or pregnant women. “

In most
birds and reptiles, an egg (Latin ovum) is the zygote, resulting from fertilization of the ovum. It nourishes and protects the embryo. Oviparous animals are animals that lay eggs, with little or no other development within the mother. This is the reproductive method of many fish, amphibians and reptiles, all birds, the monotremes, and most insects and arachnids. The study or collecting of eggs, particularly bird eggs, is called oology.

Reptile eggs, bird eggs, and monotreme eggs, which are laid out of water, are surrounded by a protective
shell, either flexible or inflexible.

The 1.5 kg
ostrich egg contains the largest existing single cell currently known, though the extinct Aepyornis and some dinosaurs had larger eggs. The Bee Hummingbird produces the smallest known bird egg, which weighs half a gram. The eggs laid by some reptiles and most fish are even smaller, and those of insects and other invertebrates are much smaller still.

Conclusion

OK, chicken are domestic birds that originated from the South Asia’s Red Junglefowl, five thousand years ago. This means the term chicken, such as used for the domestic descendants of South East Asia’s Red Jungfowl, is applicable only for the last five thousand years.
As shown above, ‘egg’ stands for a very wide range of similar oval-shaped objects, with a skin, lipid membrane, shell or a combination of all separating a protein-rich "cell" from the ouside (atmosspheric, aquatic) environment. Dinosaurs were laying eggs many millions of years ago, and so did and continue doing all reptiles, such as snakes, alligators, crocodiles and turtles.

So, who came first, chicken or egg? The answer is: the egg. This is when we look on the problem from a global and long-term perspective. During the last five thousand years, the question is difficult to answer.

In times preceding the last five thousand years or so, the question would have sounded:  “who came first, the South Asia’s Red Junglefowl or the egg,” and seventy million years ago: “ who came first, the therapod dinosaur or the egg”. 

The transition from wild animal to domestic animal isn't a precise landmark, but rather semantical. The moment when an South Asian hunter brought back a pair jungle fowl, and started to breed them in the village, could be seen as the initial and decisive birth of the term "chicken."

From Asia, domesticated birds were introduced to the Middle East, and later to Europe. This can also seen on the linguistic side of bird domestication: A "turkey" is being called "hindi" in the country of Turkey, pointing to its Asian (=Indian)origin of domestication.

I could go on for ages on this subject, but the above story has a particular lesson to tell. It’s a lesson about the evolution of species, and what it can help us understand.

Creationists can never do that, and have to recur to cumbersome faith assumptions, although our human mind, our intellectual and scientific logic is perfectly able to fully comprehend, discuss and finally solve problems such as the one shown here.

© 2008 by Franz L Kessler

 

www.wikipedia.org