Chicken and Rooster

Chicken and Rooster (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Which came first the chicken or the egg?” is one of the most famous riddles of all time. Its a popular riddle because its such a simple question, yet so baffling.

The recent discovery of a rare fossilized dinosaur nest may share some light on this question, according to Francois Therrien, the curator of dinosaur paleoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, Canada.

This rare fossilized dinosaur’s nest, which was likely laid by a small carnivorous dinosaur around 77 million years ago, consists of a mound of sand approximately 1.6 feet wide and weighing around 110 lbs. The nest and eggs are remarkably similar to the modern bird’s nest and eggs, pointing to the fact that modern birds likely evolved from a branch of small, meat-eating dinosaurs known as Maniraptorans.

What Does This Tell Us?

Essentially, this tells us that the answer to the question “which came first the chicken or the egg”, is that the egg most definitely came first since these dinosaurs were creating bird-like nests and laying eggs well before any bird (including chickens) had evolved. Of course, this doesn’t actually prove that chicken eggs came before chickens, but if you take the riddle literally, you do have a definitive answer: the egg.

Unfortunately, this evidence doesn’t definitely answer the question of whether the chicken egg evolved before the chicken, though it does confirm that bird-like eggs were around before chickens. Was the egg that hatched the first modern chicken exactly the same as a modern chicken egg, or did a non-chicken undergo a mutation that caused it to lay the first egg that hatched a chicken? That’s still a question we still don’t have a definitive answer for.

The next time someone asks you “what came first the chicken or the egg?”, you’ll have an answer.