Monthly Archives: May 2006

An old joke

An old joke goes something like this:

A chicken and an egg are lying in bed, and the chicken lights a cigarette. And the egg says “well at least now we know who came first”.

This week some scientists have announced that they have solved the question of which came first the chicken or the egg.

They have argued it this way: the egg came first. How? Because the first chicken would have been a mutant child of some other pre-chicken birds. And those birds would have been laying eggs so the first chicken would have come wrapped in an egg. Thus egg first, chicken later.

The only problem with that is that it’s a poor question. The question isn’t really “which was invented first the chicken or the egg” but is closer to “which came first the chicken or the chicken’s egg”. Because if it were the first question (which is the one the scientists are inadvertently answering) the answer is so obvious you don’t even need to be a scientist to answer it. Eggs were around at the time of the dinosaurs and arrived before birds in total arrived evolutionally. So egg technology came before the chicken did but that isn’t really the question.

The scientists are answering this question because the egg that wrapped the first chicken is the egg of a pre-chicken which has a genetic mutant inside it. Therefore the egg is not a chicken’s egg. Because to produce a chickens egg you’d have to be a mutant too.

So the answer is the rather odd answer that I’ve been saying all along. The chicken came before the egg. Because the first chicken arrived inside an ancestor’s egg and the second chicken arrived inside the first chicken’s egg.