Thu May 25, 2006
LONDON (AFP) - Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
(Does this all really matter. If so, is there a biologist out there who can explain why?)
According to a scientist, a philosopher and a chicken farmer, it was the egg, British newspapers reported.
The key to the age-old question apparently lies in the fact that since genetic material does not change throughout an animal's life, the first bird that evolved into a chicken must have initially existed as an embryo inside an egg.
Professor John Brookfield, from England's University of Nottingham, concluded that because of this, the living organism inside the eggshell would have had the same DNA as the chicken it turned into.
The specialist in evolutionary genetics was quoted in a number of newspapers as saying: "Therefore the first living thing which we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg. The egg came first."
Brookfield's conclusion was backed up by Professor David Papineau, of King's College, London, and the chairman of the trade body Great British Chicken, Charles Bourns.
Papineau, an expert in the philosophy of science, argued that the first chicken must have emerged from an egg even though it was laid by a different species of bird, but it was still a chicken egg because it had a chicken in it.
"The conclusion therefore must be that the egg came first and the chicken afterwards," he stated.
Bourns' methodology was not explained in The Times, the Daily Mail and the Independent, who all carried the story.
"Eggs were around long before the first chicken arrived," he affirmed.