Questions for "evolutionists" - chickens, eggs, protein and Everest

Continuing the long series on questions for "evolutionists" is a few questions from a reader I got. I assume they think their questions are compelling. They are not.

First up:

What came first, the chicken or the egg? If the egg; what came first, the embryo or the shell?

The egg came first. Let me explain why. At some point in the chicken’s evolutionary past, it was a different species. Scientists categorise modern domesticated chickens as Gallus gallus domesticus. Their domestication is estimated to have started around 10,000 years ago in East Asia. If we for the sake of argument define chickens or red junglefowl (Gallus gallus) as a different species at a point around 10,000 years ago when they started to become domesticated, there would have been a a time where a chicken's parents were just those wild red junglefowls. Of course from individual generations the differences are only slight. But differences do occur. Broadening the concept further, all birds are descended from dinosaurs, so at some point dinosaurs did lay eggs with birds in them. Obviously it's not as such fine a line and species change gradually, but if you have to draw a razor sharp line somewhere, it will fall between two generations.

A quick point on what came first out of shell or an embryo. An embryo, which is critical to a species reproducing, would have come first. You can reproduce without a shell, as many species do and have done in the past. If you evolve a shell and it helps you survive, bonus. But it's certainly not the first step.

What came first DNA or the proteins that make up DNA? Since DNA itself contains the code or instructions on how to make more DNA?

First up DNA is not made from proteins, DNA codes for proteins, you can think of proteins as carrying out all the jobs that need to be done in a cell, and DNA as what tells the proteins what to do. Proteins would have *probably* been around before DNA; however this is obviously cutting edge science, and without a time machine it will be difficult to determine. It's probably fair to say RNA and proteins co-evolved. Although the first life on Earth would probably have been a simple self-replicated module, similar to RNA.

Try these simple steps:

1. Google: "how old is mount everest"
2. Google: "how many inches does mount everest grow in one year".
3. 70 million x 2.4 = 168 million
4. Divide by a mile: 168 million / 5,280 = 31,818
5. Mount everest should be 31,818 miles high?

Very nice. But the Earth cannot be understood by such simple arithmetic. You also need to consider the different rates Mt Everest and the Himalayas would have been growing, or shrinking over the course of the last 70 million years. You also need to take into account the amount of erosion that would have been happening over the course of those 70 million or so years, and take into account its variability also. Lastly, you also need to take into account that mountains cannot get much bigger than Mt Everest because gravity will pull them down, essentially they'll shrink under their own weight. An asteroid can have a huge lump or mountain out of one side, but an object as massive as the Earth has a lot of gravity and it will tend to smooth itself out.


Comment from: Joseph Smidt [Visitor]
Joseph Smidt

Very good responses. I particularly like your response to the chicken and the egg issue.

8th June 2010 @ 00:52
Comment from: Bernie [Visitor]  

About the chicken and the egg question: I once thought I came up with the same satisfying scientific, non-trivial answer, with the same speciation educational element thrown in. Then someone pointed out that the answer contains a problem of definitions. Is a chicken egg defined as an egg that has an embryo chick inside it or is a chicken egg defined as an egg that a chicken laid. Normally it makes no difference, so no one bothers to define things so exactly. But here it does make a difference. With the first definition, the given answer is correct; with the second definition, we need to go to the next generation of egg before we have a chicken egg. That means the chicken came first. All this assumes of course that the question itself: "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?", actually means "Which came first, the chicken or the CHICKEN egg?" If not, you would get a completely different answer as follows: Creatures were laying eggs long before there were any chickens, or for that matter birds, dinosaurs or even land animals. In fact we can safely say that the first egg was probably laid millions of years before there were any chickens, and probably contained the embryo of a primitive fish.

12th June 2010 @ 20:03
Comment from: Ali [Visitor]

I recall ages ago back in elementary school people use to bring up the chicken vs. egg debate. Younger than 10 and I still managed to come up loosely with an idea vouching for evolution (well, back then I assumed two different species could potentially cross breed to create the modern day chicken). So while not spot on, I still assumed the egg would always come first.

And here I know plenty of full grown non-religious people who still don't see how an egg could come first. Oh well ;)

Great blog by the way, very glad I happened upon it.

1st July 2010 @ 03:54

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