What came first? The chicken or the egg? Well, first thing, this is a non-starter of a question. Did a chicken just magically appear out of nowhere and come from nothing as creationists would suspect? No. Did a Tyrannosaurus just hatch a chicken egg one day as those who don’t quite understand evolution would tell you? No. Neither is true, in fact. The smart ass would say the rooster came first and would be a tad more dead on, but this is not the case either. Let us remember that evolution happens through small, very small gradual changes.
The first eggs appeared long before the first chickens. They didn’t contain chickens, of course. But they contained the animals whose descendants would eventually become chickens.
The very first “eggs” were produced by ancient invertebrates that broadcast their gametes into the open ocean where sperm and egg fused to become a zygote (fertilized egg). Later evolution produced species that secreted a protective shell around the zygote, and this little capsule, as simple as it was, could still be considered an egg.
Why do I bring this up? Well, MSNBC has recently published an article claiming they now have scientific proof that the chicken came first. This alleged proof came when “scientists found that a protein found only in a chicken’s ovaries is necessary for the formation of the egg… The egg can therefore only exist if it has been created inside a chicken.”
I wish I could just go on as if we all know why this is stupid, but the high school graduation rates of America state otherwise. So, here’s why this is stupid. This is the equivalent of finding a new mucus cell in the human body that is responsible for tasting less fatty foods and using this as proof that canaries are purple. Or better yet, discovering that unicorns are hollow and using this as proof that leprechauns are made of wood.
Dr. Colin Freeman, from Sheffield University’s Department of Engineering Materials said the following, “It had long been suspected that the egg came first but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first.”
University of Minnesota Morris professor PZ Myers, author of the science blog Pharyngula pointed it out far more eloquently than I could, “No. What they found was a specific molecule called ovocleidin which is a member of a family of C-type lectin-like proteins. These things are all over the place; they’re cell adhesion molecules, some are involved in cell signaling, some function in modulating the immune system and blood clotting pathways. They’re even found in snake venoms.”
Basically, we’re looking at a protein that is found in everything from small transparent nematodes all the way to land mammals like humans. The key property of which is to bind calcium. The reason for the miscommunication is that in chickens, this protein has been coopted to regulate the formation of egg shells. The issue is that outside of chickens, this protein isn’t used in egg formation. In fact, even close relatives to chickes utilize completely different proteins to regulate egg shell formation and crystal formation.
And the fact of the matter is that the chickens we see today who use ovocleidin to regulate egg formation are ancestors of a species that used something else. And even that species came from an egg, much like the reptiles before it, and amphibians before that, and the see-going creatures before that who all laid eggs without the use of ovocleidin.
So, in conclusion, MSNBC, you have forfeited your right to call yourself news. And Dr. Colin Freeman, one of two things: 1. If you merely misspoke, then in the future, please try to speak clearly as if talking to a child when talking to the press. 2. If you were serious, you now need to quit your job at Sheffeild University and go work for the Discovery Institute where you belong. Dumb asses!!!