Tired of armchair philosophers?  I’ll be taking on some of the more irritating conundrums from time to time, but today the chicken and the egg are on the hot seat.  Which came first?  Lessee, now – I bought that rotisserie chicken just last night, so – definitely the eggs came first!  They’ve been here so long, I may have to serve them to my guests!  But, which of them were laid by the chicken I bought last night?   Seriously, the C&E question is a great example of the false conundrum, in this case brought on by our human tendency to overcategorize.  The egg is dairy, the chicken is meat. They look, taste and feel different to us, but what about them?  What if the egg is a rooster?  It can’t lay another egg, and it reminds us that the egg is really the chicken embryo, waiting to cast off its shell and start eating. The chicken is the egg, and the egg is the chicken.  We don’t say, “what came first, the toddler or the retiree?” though they are almost as different from each other as the chicken and the egg.  Eggs are one answer evolution came up with to the question of what to do with the embryo.  Do we invest heavily in intrauterine development, which makes the mother vulnerable to predation for an extended period, or do we invest in extrauterine development, placing our bet on an easily concealed embryo with a protective coating, which the mother can abandon for a time to forage, or sacrifice to a predator and survive to lay another clutch?  Nature seems to have placed the heaviest bet on the egg, as there are vastly more species that have evolved this method of insuring the survival of offspring.  The chicken and the egg are the same organism, and it is younger than the extrauterine strategy, which evolved way down the evolutionary tree, with the reptiles, some of which have still not made up their genetic minds, one species laying eggs, another giving what is wrongly, but very revealingly called “live” birth.  There is the origin of C&A in a nutshell – our human tendency to see only the surface of reality.  The egg is “dead” – it doesn’t come to “life” until it hatches.  Must we continue to see things with our reptilian brains?  Might as well accept humans riding dinosaurs – but most of us don’t, because we know how evolution works:  some aboriginal lizard, interrupted in the act of birthing, runs from a predator, escapes and finds upon returning, not only that her embryo had survived due to a slightly tougher amniotic sac than was the norm for her species, but that her very behavior in escaping, also distracted the predator from her offspring.  Many birds today improve on the instinct to flee by conspicuous displays to “intentionally” lure the predator away from their nests.  The behavior and the  slightly tougher embryonic covering evolved together.  The egg with its altered DNA does not survive without parental care, the chicken and the egg evolved together as one, with apologies to E. O. Wilson, who maintains that the egg, as the first member of a new type, came first.

glossolalique

glossolalique

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