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LeBrok
23-03-14, 22:57
We are all familiar with this philosophical question. Question looking for an answer about a beginning to seemingly impossible to solve sequence. Which goes: ...<-egg<-chicken<-egg<-chicken<-egg<-... Who or what started it? Was a chicken first or was it an egg?

I'm don't know who invented it, but I suppose it was a clever attempts of visualization of infinity, or perhaps realization of human shortcomings that some world's mysteries will never be solved by humankind, and better left for the Omnipotent. Perhaps it is just a realization that in some cases we'll never find the Truth but we can always or only voice our Opinion.

Here is my stab at it, from humanist-individualist perspective:

The chicken and the egg are exactly same organism, the same individual, pictured in different stage of his/her life, as an egg and as a chicken. In other words there is no sequence ...<-egg<-chicken<-egg<-chicken<-egg<-... but only a sequence ...<-chicken<-chicken<-chicken<-.... However, when we talk about individual chicken's life, we can split it into two stages; "a chicken in an egg" stage and "a chicken after egg" stage. In this case, from this two defined stages, and singular life perspective, an egg (an egg stage) is always first. Although in the grand scheme of life, we have to remember that actually there is a chicken in this egg, they both exist at the same time, therefore they are both first.

Did I solve the puzzle?

What is your take on it?


Some history on this dilemma:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicken_or_the_egg

Famous people answering this question:
Aristotle: both the bird and egg must have always existed
Stephen Hawking: the egg was first

ElHorsto
23-03-14, 23:56
Maybe, but I'm not sure. Your reasoning is based on the particular model of "chicken in the egg", but not "egg in the chicken".

Here is a biological model:

Chicken C is a species and it has evolved gradually from another species X (dinosaur or whatever, don't know, but not so important).
There exists a definition which distinguishes any C DNA from any X DNA. Although we don't know how a distinction between X and C could work and where it should be, we know that it does exist, at least by arbitrary definition of ours. It is not relevant where the distinction is exactly defined.
So the very first evolutionary transition from an animal X towards the first chicken of the world C must have happened by at least one DNA change.
Such mutations can only happen when exactly the egg is fertilized but not later. The mutations of course can happen before during mother animal's lifetime, but they do not change the phenotype of the mother yet, so they do not make it a chicken (or does it? Is a species defined by genotype or phenotype? If it depends on DNA, then in order to distinguish X from C we must know whether the chicken DNA came to existence by mother's mutated DNA only or by recombination with father's DNA).
This means that the first chicken of the world grew out of an egg, but the egg still came out of a species X mother animal.

I believe that an egg's phenotype is still based on the mother's DNA and not on the child's DNA.

If this is biologically correct (I'm not sure), then the chicken was first.

Aberdeen
24-03-14, 01:41
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I would say the dinosaur came first.

I think this shows fairly clearly the perils of trying to answer the wrong question.

LeBrok
24-03-14, 02:38
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I would say the dinosaur came first.

I think this shows fairly clearly the perils of trying to answer the wrong question.
We also know that amphibians and fish are predecessors of dinosaurs and they all laid eggs. We could go even farther in time to find the first egg and laying laying creature to figure out if this creature or an egg was first. Obviously there had to be the beginning of en egg. Don't you think?

Aberdeen
24-03-14, 03:44
We also know that amphibians and fish are predecessors of dinosaurs and they all laid eggs. We could go even farther in time to find the first egg and laying laying creature to figure out if this creature or an egg was first. Obviously there had to be the beginning of en egg. Don't you think?

Clearly, some animal must have been the first of its kind to reproduce by laying eggs, rather than by some other means, so in that sense one could certainly say that the egg came before the chicken, if that's your point. However, if that's going to be your answer, perhaps the question should be "which came first, the chicken or the fish or amphibian egg", which is not how the question is generally asked.

LeBrok
24-03-14, 04:32
Maybe, but I'm not sure. Your reasoning is based on the particular model of "chicken in the egg", but not "egg in the chicken".
I was thinking about this but didn't want to complicate the matter too much in first post. Even if the new egg is still in "mother-chicken", in this fertilized egg (on genetic level) is a young chicken. To simplify, there is chicken in the chicken and the egg is there in the mix. The main concept being that one can't separate the egg from the chicken.



Here is a biological model:

Chicken C is a species and it has evolved gradually from another species X (dinosaur or whatever, don't know, but not so important).
There exists a definition which distinguishes any C DNA from any X DNA. Although we don't know how a distinction between X and C could work and where it should be, we know that it does exist, at least by arbitrary definition of ours. It is not relevant where the distinction is exactly defined.
So the very first evolutionary transition from an animal X towards the first chicken of the world C must have happened by at least one DNA change.
Such mutations can only happen when exactly the egg is fertilized but not later. The mutations of course can happen before during mother animal's lifetime, but they do not change the phenotype of the mother yet, so they do not make it a chicken (or does it? Is a species defined by genotype or phenotype? If it depends on DNA, then in order to distinguish X from C we must know whether the chicken DNA came to existence by mother's mutated DNA only or by recombination with father's DNA).
This means that the first chicken of the world grew out of an egg, but the egg still came out of a species X mother animal.

I believe that an egg's phenotype is still based on the mother's DNA and not on the child's DNA.

If this is biologically correct (I'm not sure), then the chicken was first.

I like your Species (biological) explanation.


The mutations of course can happen before during mother animal's lifetime, but they do not change the phenotype of the mother yet, so they do not make it a chicken (or does it? Is a species defined by genotype or phenotype?
I would say it doesn't. If mutation had happened in the mother it probably affected only ovaries or maybe just this one unfertilized egg (so we can still call it X). If it had happened in the egg it would need to happen at the beginning of division of cells to affect the whole new animal, the first true Chicken. In this case one would say it is the egg which was first, but I still claim that the egg IS the chicken.

I agree that there is uncertainty and mutation or few mutations could took place in successions in few chicken cycles mudding the development of first chicken or first egg even more. X->Xc->XC->xC->C, in this five generation cycle gradually there is less X and more Chicken every generation. Even if we don't agree in what stage the true chicken happened, it doesn't really matter because genotypically speaking the egg is the chicken.

LeBrok
24-03-14, 04:39
Clearly, some animal must have been the first of its kind to reproduce by laying eggs, rather than by some other means, so in that sense one could certainly say that the egg came before the chicken, if that's your point. However, if that's going to be your answer, perhaps the question should be "which came first, the chicken or the fish or amphibian egg", which is not how the question is generally asked.
It only depends who you ask. You'll get different answer from geneticist and different from a lawyer. First will easily imagine a chain of species till the beginning of first egg, the latter will start from proper definition of a chicken and property rights of the chicken to its egg. :grin:

LeBrok
24-03-14, 08:20
Deep biological model:
If we stray away from proper taxonomy of chicken genus, we can suppose that long time ago, deep in the ocean, there was a first mutated organism (the primordial chicken), not born in way of an egg, who thanks to this mutation released something like a stem cell, which we could call the first egg, who gave atart to all egg laying animals. In this deep biological beginning the chicken was first.

ElHorsto
24-03-14, 13:50
I agree that there is uncertainty and mutation or few mutations could took place in successions in few chicken cycles mudding the development of first chicken or first egg even more. X->Xc->XC->xC->C, in this five generation cycle gradually there is less X and more Chicken every generation. Even if we don't agree in what stage the true chicken happened, it doesn't really matter because genotypically speaking the egg is the chicken.

Something like this, yes. I think the egg ceases to be an egg exactly at fertilization, because fertilization turns the egg into a chicken. And whichever threshold for X and C categorization is applied, the threshold can work only at a fertilization point. And that's the only possible timepoint where the transition from a "yet X" to "already C" can happen.

In formal terms, fertilization is a function F which takes mother, father and egg values as parameters and returns a fertilized egg value.

F: [mother, father, egg] ---> offspring(=fertilized egg)

The clue to my answer is the position of the '--->' which I think should be placed as above, where new species DNA start to represent a new life. And that's actually the splitting of an egg into

1. unfertilized egg
2. fertilized egg.

In this reasoning the unfertilized chicken egg could not have been first because else it's mother was also a chicken.
And the fertilized egg is already a chicken embryo. The remnants of the unfertilized egg (egg shell, nutritional liquid,..) is not part of the new animal. It belongs to the environment provided by the mother. It is being consumed by the new animal like corn and air.

So still the conclusion would be that the chicken was first.

Aberdeen
24-03-14, 15:56
Something like this, yes. I think the egg ceases to be an egg exactly at fertilization, because fertilization turns the egg into a chicken. And whichever threshold for X and C categorization is applied, the threshold can work only at a fertilization point. And that's the only possible timepoint where the transition from a "yet X" to "already C" can happen.

In formal terms, fertilization is a function F which takes mother, father and egg values as parameters and returns a fertilized egg value.

F: [mother, father, egg] ---> offspring(=fertilized egg)

The clue to my answer is the position of the '--->' which I think should be placed as above, where new species DNA start to represent a new life. And that's actually the splitting of an egg into

1. unfertilized egg
2. fertilized egg.

In this reasoning the unfertilized chicken egg could not have been first because else it's mother was also a chicken.
And the fertilized egg is already a chicken embryo. The remnants of the unfertilized egg (egg shell, nutritional liquid,..) is not part of the new animal. It belongs to the environment provided by the mother. It is being consumed by the new animal like corn and air.

So still the conclusion would be that the chicken was first.

No. An egg does not magically turn into a chicken embryo as soon as it's fertilized. It remains an egg, although it's a fertilized egg. If you've ever eaten eggs from free-range chickens, you will have eaten a fertilized egg. The egg only gradually turns into a chicken embryo. The egg came first.

ElHorsto
24-03-14, 16:24
No. An egg does not magically turn into a chicken embryo as soon as it's fertilized. It remains an egg, although it's a fertilized egg. If you've ever eaten eggs from free-range chickens, you will have eaten a fertilized egg. The egg only gradually turns into a chicken embryo. The egg came first.

But when does the chicken start to exist?

Aberdeen
24-03-14, 16:36
But when does the chicken start to exist?

It's a gradual process. As a child, growing up on a farm, I sometimes had the experience of cracking an egg for my breakfast only to find that it had started the process of changing from egg to embryo. Sometimes there would be just a bit of strange matter in the egg but sometimes you could see a partially formed chick, depending on how far along the process was. There's no way to tell that the embryo has started to develop until you break the egg. My family didn't consider eggs that were partial embryos to be edible, but apparently some people do. Of course, you won't have the experience of breaking open and egg and seeing a partially formed embryo if you buy eggs in a supermarket, since the eggs are gathered the same day, and from chickens that have never had any close contact with a cock (which is the proper name for a male chicken, among other things).

ebAmerican
24-03-14, 16:53
Mammals are unique in that they keep their eggs (no difference except one has a hard shell and the other does not) internally where the environment can't dry out the inner contents. But, this is not the norm and eggs were usually deposited outside of the body in watery places. When these creatures began to surface on dry land those who could produce eggs with harder and harder membranes survived (natural selection). If we go back to signle cell life, they would be technically no different than eggs ( a membrane protecting vital DNA and a supply of nutrients for growth and reproduction). I would agree with Aberdeen and suggest that the egg came first.

LeBrok
24-03-14, 17:51
Something like this, yes. I think the egg ceases to be an egg exactly at fertilization, because fertilization turns the egg into a chicken. And whichever threshold for X and C categorization is applied, the threshold can work only at a fertilization point. And that's the only possible timepoint where the transition from a "yet X" to "already C" can happen.

In formal terms, fertilization is a function F which takes mother, father and egg values as parameters and returns a fertilized egg value.

F: [mother, father, egg] ---> offspring(=fertilized egg)

The clue to my answer is the position of the '--->' which I think should be placed as above, where new species DNA start to represent a new life. And that's actually the splitting of an egg into

1. unfertilized egg
2. fertilized egg.

In this reasoning the unfertilized chicken egg could not have been first because else it's mother was also a chicken.

Life has a fun way to rain on our attempts to compartmentalize our understanding of nature. In this case life found a way to make a new life from unfertilized eggs. We know that many amphibians have ability (in absence of males) to grow from unfertilized eggs. Making exact copies of a mother by basically cloning themselves.

In this case we don't have a choice but incorporate all eggs into the process, at least in deep biological explanation.





And the fertilized egg is already a chicken embryo. The remnants of the unfertilized egg (egg shell, nutritional liquid,..) is not part of the new animal. It belongs to the environment provided by the mother. It is being consumed by the new animal like corn and air.

So still the conclusion would be that the chicken was first.
Well, chicken feathers and poop once belong entirely to a chicken too, and could be compared to excretion of shell by new hatchling. Perhaps the line needs to be drawn by presence of DNA cells. The shell, white and yolk doesn't contain cells with chicken DNA and might not be consider chicken, except new embryonic stem cells. Feathers are also part of a chicken.

This understanding might render "egg is a chicken" useless in later stage of an egg life, but still works at the beginning when this egg is basically one cell (one stem cell) in hen's belly, fertilized or not.

LeBrok
24-03-14, 18:31
But when does the chicken start to exist?

Now we are getting into embryonic stem cell debate, lol.

Conservative versus Liberal view of chicken and egg:

George Bush, conservative, view was that a human life starts at the moment of fertilization of an egg. Therefore any experiments on embryonic stem cells were deemed unethical and forbidden by law during his cadency. It was more or less genotypic approach to the subject, as DNA in embryonic cell is the same as in adult person, the only difference is that DNA in adult person had a chance and time to multipl into anatomically correct person. In other words DNA completed a full life cycle from conception to maturity and had a chance to make a new life, offspring.

Even though I never kept Bush as an example of intelligence, this conservative view creates simplicity, defining a single and clear point of human conception. I would like to notice that I'm for using discarded embryos (sentenced to death) to help science and humankind. I'm just saying that conservative view is simpler to understand and live with.

Now, extrapolating this conservative view on the chicken and egg, we will come to conclusion that an egg is a chicken, therefore there was always chicken first and only chicken, or both were first if considering stages of chicken life, the chicken in an egg and outside an egg.

Liberal view on other hand accommodates complexity of human social life and nature. For example, not rendering mother a killers when aborting a baby, and allows scientists to experiment with embryos. In this case the definition of human being is not genotypical but more phenotypical and morphological. It states that we are becoming humans at certain stage of development. This could be at 2, 3 or 4 months of pregnancy or even at the time of a birth that we become humans with human rights, the right to live. This is very arbitrary and not very clear. It also can change from decade to decade like a slider on a scale creating multitude of legal problems and dilemmas.

Liberal point (set by law makers) will clearly declare that an egg is just an egg, a chicken life only starts at some point, let's say at time of hatching for sake of argument. In this case Egg will win over Chicken. The egg, with mutated chicken DNA, was first and gave start to new genus the Chicken, the Gallus Domesticus.

ElHorsto
24-03-14, 18:41
Life has a fun way to rain on our attempts to compartmentalize our understanding of nature. In this case life found a way to make a new life from unfertilized eggs. We know that many amphibians have ability (in absence of males) to grow from unfertilized eggs. Making exact copies of a mother by basically cloning themselves.

In this case we don't have a choice but incorporate all eggs into the process, at least in deep biological explanation.


You are right, but I'm in the lawyer's camp for now and thus hereby I say that these amphibians are no chicken and thus not relevant for solving the problem. :-)
Further I define for my convenience that the chicken starts to exist inside the egg at meiosis. Although I see that I have to adjust my previous post:

a fertilized egg itself is no chicken, but it contains a chicken.

But the surrounding egg (shell, yolk etc.) still does not represent the start of this chicken because it was created already before this meiosis and thus by parent's DNA.



Well, chicken feathers and poop once belong entirely to a chicken too, and could be compared to excretion of shell by new hatchling. Perhaps the line needs to be drawn by presence of DNA cells. The shell, white and yolk doesn't contain cells with chicken DNA and might not be consider chicken, except new embryonic stem cells. Feathers are also part of a chicken.

This understanding might render "egg is a chicken" useless in later stage of an egg life, but still works at the beginning when this egg is basically one cell (one stem cell) in hen's belly, fertilized or not.

As a lawyer I hereby define that a sexually reproducible animal starts to exist by meiosis, so problem is solved :-)

Seriously, I start to admit that there is probably no clear answer to this question because there is no sufficiently precise definition of a species, egg, animal and embryo. At least I'm not aware of.
It is impossible to find a sharp answer using fuzzy terms. I think this is what Aberdeen meant by "wrong question".
That being said, I still think that meiosis provides a useful definition for a starting point of a chicken's existence. But this definition is like an ad-hoc fix in order to find a sentence in a court. Probably there is no natural objective law out there which provides the answer.

Other similar questions probably would be: Where is the endpoint and starting point of a river? How big is the circumfence of Great Britain?

EDIT: I missed your other post, so probably there will be some redundancy.

LeBrok
24-03-14, 19:43
Other similar questions probably would be: Where is the endpoint and starting point of a river? How big is the circumfence of Great Britain?

From my point of view it might be compared to duality of light, both energy and particle, or state of matter (a cat is dead and alive at same time), lol.

LeBrok
24-03-14, 19:51
Christian explanation:

God created all animals, a chicken included, therefore a chicken was first. Granted that Bible doesn't state literally that God created a chicken or an egg, or in this order, but we know that eggs can't hatch without hens help. Hens on other hand can perfectly live without eggs. Therefore when Bible says God created all the animals it means the Chicken and not the Egg.

Chicken was first.

LeBrok
04-04-14, 23:40
Nature versus Nurture:
Clean Slate, the nurture hypothesis, which states that who we are is learned during life, would definitely puts chicken before egg. If egg was first the new chicken wouldn't be able to learn life skills to survive from non existing parent.
On other hand, if most important knowledge of being a chicken comes from genetics, the Nature part which determines a pleasant smell of edible bugs and seeds, how to choose a mate and copulate, then either a chicken or an egg can be first, or both at same time.

hope
05-04-14, 01:49
Nature versus Nurture:
Clean Slate, the nurture hypothesis, which states that who we are is learned during life, would definitely puts chicken before egg. If egg was first the new chicken wouldn't be able to learn life skills to survive from non existing parent.
On other hand, if most important knowledge of being a chicken comes from genetics, the Nature part which determines a pleasant smell of edible bugs and seeds, how to choose a mate and copulate, then either a chicken or an egg can be first, or both at same time.

Mmm..tricky :) How about nurture acting on nature (epigenetic evolution?) In which case, which came first the mutated chicken or the mutated egg? I`d go with the egg. Let`s say species A passed on some mutated genes [which did not make it itself a chicken but rather the immediate predecessor] and the result was B..chicken? No, that wouldn`t really work...
I think I`ve just gone round in circles here...:confused2:

Aberdeen
06-04-14, 00:12
Mmm..tricky :) How about nurture acting on nature (epigenetic evolution?) In which case, which came first the mutated chicken or the mutated egg? I`d go with the egg. Let`s say species A passed on some mutated genes [which did not make it itself a chicken but rather the immediate predecessor] and the result was B..chicken? No, that wouldn`t really work...
I think I`ve just gone round in circles here...:confused2:

Okay, if we're going to ignore the fact that eggs existed millions of years before there were chickens, I say the egg still came first, because a proto-chicken must have laid the egg that produced the first real chicken. So, egg first.

hope
06-04-14, 01:19
Okay, if we're going to ignore the fact that eggs existed millions of years before there were chickens, I say the egg still came first, because a proto-chicken must have laid the egg that produced the first real chicken. So, egg first.
Proto-chicken..now why didn`t I just say that?!
Yes I agree, it has to be egg first.....

Twilight
06-04-14, 05:26
Sounds like we got a pecking order here :D