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Problem Solved: The Egg Came First

Time to find a new brain teaser - the chicken and egg question has been solved. The egg wins

Time to find a new brain teaser—the chicken and egg question has been solved. The egg wins.

If that answer doesn’t satisfy you, here’s why. First, like everything else, chickens evolved. At some point, a not-chicken became a chicken. And that chicken had to have come out of an egg, which existed before the not-chicken. Popular Science explains:

Another way to look at the question would be to ask which came first in evolutionary history. Once again, the egg takes precedence. Many characteristics of the modern avian egg—namely an oblong, asymmetrical shape and a hardened shell—were in place before birds diverged from dinosaurs about 150 million years ago. “A lot of the traits that we see in bird eggs evolved prior to birds in theropod dinosaurs,” says Darla Zelenitsky, of the University of Calgary.

So eggs were around a long time before chickens. Something like 150 million years before them. Of course, eggs didn’t always look like they do now, but they were still eggs. Okay, so clearly eggs came first. But ASAP science refines the question. They ask: what came first, the chicken or the chicken egg. This one isn’t as clear. Here’s their explanation:

It might be best to switch to wondering about something else all together. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Okay, physicists might have ruined that question, too.

More from Smithsonian.com:

14 Fun Facts About Chickens
Love Chicken Nuggets? Thank Cornell Poultry Professor Robert C. Baker

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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