What came first - an egg or a chicken? Eternal question

The dilemma of the causal relationship that appeared first - the egg or the chicken is usually used as a metaphorical adjective describing a situation when it is not clear which of the two phenomena should be considered initial and which should be considered as an effect.

The question of antiquity

As far as the eternal question that first appeared - an egg or a chicken, can be traced only to the times of the last centuries BC. The dilemma that arose from the observation that all chickens hatch from eggs, and all chicken eggs are laid by matured chickens, described in the IV century BC. er Aristotle. He concluded that this is an endless sequence that does not have a true origin: "For there could not be the first egg to give rise to the birds, or there must be the first bird that gave rise to the eggs, because the bird is from the egg." Earlier information about the consideration of this issue has not been preserved.

that the egg or the chicken came first

A question of the Middle Ages

Four centuries after Aristotle, in his philosophical essay "Symposiums" (I in AD), Plutarch emphasized this question as "a great and weighty problem: did the world have a beginning." In the fifth century AD, Macrobius wrote that, although the question seemed trivial, it should be “viewed as one of the important circumstances.” Until about 1600, the question: "Egg or chicken - what appeared first?", The Bible gave an authoritative answer. When describing the creation of animal God, the book pointed to the original origin of the chicken, which originated by the will of God, and not from an egg. In Genesis 1:21, it is told how on the fifth day the Lord creates "every winged bird." However, already during the Renaissance, not only philosophers, but also natural scientists questioned this statement.

The question of modernity

It would seem that the current man, armed with rich scientific knowledge, is able to answer what appeared earlier - an egg, a chicken, or vice versa? But the challenge remains a dilemma with mixed answers.

If the question is attributed to the eggs in general, then it should be assumed that they appeared from the beginning. Since the first hard-shelled egg, which could have been laid on land, unlike fish or amphibian eggs, appeared about 312 million years ago.Chickens are domesticated descendants of red jungle chickens, perhaps they arose just over eight thousand years ago.

chicken or egg what used to be

Chicken Egg Case

If the question is posed in relation to chicken eggs, the explanation becomes somewhat more complicated. The process of domestication and crossing wild species of jungle chickens is poorly understood. The moment in which a certain evolving organism has turned into a modern hen is too arbitrary. And it is completely unknown what animal was the forerunner of the wild chicken, when it was this animal that laid the fertilized egg with the DNA identical to the modern laying hen (due to mutations in the female egg, male sperm, or fertilized zygote). As the famous scientific popularizer, astrophysicist and philosopher Neil Degrass Tyson said: “What came first, the egg or the chicken? The egg was laid by a bird that was not a chicken. ”

The answer is given by paleontologists

Specialists in long-extinct organisms, have found evidence of a family connection between birds and dinosaurs. During excavations in Madagascar, the remains of an animal were found, approximately 60 million years old. A creature (rahonavis) is no more than a crow, once had feathers and flew.Rahonavis has more in common with the anatomy of birds and dinosaurs than of all previous finds. Prior to this, the theory that birds evolved from dinosaurs was only an unproved assumption. Now the dilemma that appeared first - the chicken or the egg, paleontologists solved unequivocally.

 logical paradox

Modern shortbreds are the most numerous and oldest detachment in the class of birds. Its formation and isolation from the total mass can be attributed to the beginning of Cenozoic - the period when the birds evolved rapidly, compared with their Mesozoic ancestors. Having adapted to the flight, they quickly began to spread across all continents. But the ability of birds, like chicken, to carry eggs, was not invented by birds, it was inherited from dinosaurs.

It is curious that the property of breeding with the help of eggs was inherited by dinosaurs from even more ancient first reptiles that lived on land - the Cotilosaurs, who lived 300 million years ago.

Biochemists give the answer

On the question of the problem of chicken and eggs, specifically related to chicken eggs, the answer as an alternative may be different. The body of modern chicken produces a special protein OC-17 (ovokleidin-17), which is not produced by other species of birds.The protein is expressed in the bird's uterus and causes the formation of a thickened calcium carbonate shell around modern chicken eggs.

Since OC-17 is produced by the chicken itself, and not by the egg, the first bird, which began to produce this protein, even if it hatched from unreinforced 17 eggs, laid the first clutch with the current composition of the shell, that is, it became its predecessor. In this case, the dilemma: there was something earlier - a chicken or an egg, decided in favor of the chicken. It remains to find out when the hen began to produce OC-17: before it became domesticated chicken or after?

chicken bears eggs

The vicious circle of eggs and chicken

The logical paradox of chicken and eggs as a model of endless cyclicity has analogues in technology, psychology, medicine, economics, politics, ecology, social and other spheres. Such a process is called a vicious or logical circle. This term refers to a sequence of repetitive, cyclical events connected by a causal relationship and creating a feedback loop (vicious circle or “returned to where they started from”). This is similar to how a chicken hatches from an egg; when it matures, it lays an egg, from which the chicken will also appear.The cycles will continue in the direction of their impulse until some external factor intervenes and interrupts them. In many cases, each repeated cycle may enhance the effect of the previous one, as well as have neutral, favorable or detrimental results.

the eternal question what came first egg or chicken


Any "vicious circle" situation is reminiscent of the closure of an endless process, when a hen carries eggs, from which chicks hatch, which also lay eggs in due time.

  1. Situational example: to get a job in some areas, you need to have experience of this work. To gain experience you need to get a job in this type of activity.
  2. An economic example of hyperinflation: undermining the real value of the local currency, inflation in the country minimizes the local money reserves of the population, which, as a rule, translates their savings into relatively stable foreign currencies. Under these conditions, the general price level in the country is growing rapidly, since the official currency is losing real value at an accelerated pace, despite the fact that the importance of the economic position of this country remains stable in terms of foreign currencies.
  3. Technical example: in order to download a browser from a site, the device must already have some kind of browser.
  4. Medical example: in a sequential chain of pathological changes in the body, one of the links in this process leads to the further development of pathology.
  5. A literary example: in the fairy tale of Saint-Exupery there is a dialogue between the Little Prince and the Drunkard. The latter gives justification for his alcoholism in the form of a logical chain: he drinks to forget; he wants to forget that he is ashamed; shame on him because he drinks.

 chicken and egg problem

The logical trick. What used to be an egg or a chicken?

If you put the question in relation to chicken eggs, then the task resembles a logical paradox, which has two hypothetical answers and not a single confirmed one. And in this case, the proof of who appeared earlier may turn into endless debates, but will constantly lock itself on the question itself.

This technique is used in philosophy, logic, cognitive psychology, some philological disciplines, other humanities and is called a logical trick (error). The proof of any hypothesis or statement will be wrong,since in the chain of arguments and arguments one link is necessarily initially erroneous when the evidence (explanation, definition, statement) includes the properties of the provable itself (when something is proved by the same.

chicken hatching from an egg

The simplest examples are in the form of statements:

  • one must live for the sake of life itself;
  • the world was created by someone, because it cannot appear out of nowhere by itself;
  • the man is courageous, and therefore is called a man;
  • opium has a soporific effect because it puts to sleep.

A logical trick is a frequent admission in polemical debates and political speeches, which makes it possible to mislead the audience with the help of false-logical arguments.

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