Ancient Mystery: Solved!

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Lifecrafter
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CNN reported this the other day:

quote:
[i]Chicken and egg debate unscrambled

Egg came first, 'eggsperts' agree[/i]

LONDON, England -- It's a question that has baffled scientists, academics and pub bores through the ages: What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Now a team made up of a geneticist, philosopher and chicken farmer claim to have found an answer. It was the egg.

Put simply, the reason is down to the fact that genetic material does not change during an animal's life.

Therefore the first bird that evolved into what we would call a chicken, probably in prehistoric times, must have first existed as an embryo inside an egg.

Professor John Brookfield, a specialist in evolutionary genetics at the University of Nottingham, told the UK Press Association the pecking order was clear.

The living organism inside the eggshell would have had the same DNA as the chicken it would develop into, he said.

"Therefore, the first living thing which we could say unequivocally was a member of the species would be this first egg," he added. "So, I would conclude that the egg came first."

The same conclusion was reached by his fellow "eggsperts" Professor David Papineau, of King's College London, and poultry farmer Charles Bourns.

Mr Papineau, an expert in the philosophy of science, agreed that the first chicken came from an egg and that proves there were chicken eggs before chickens.

He told PA people were mistaken if they argued that the mutant egg belonged to the "non-chicken" bird parents.

"I would argue it is a chicken egg if it has a chicken in it," he said.

"If a kangaroo laid an egg from which an ostrich hatched, that would surely be an ostrich egg, not a kangaroo egg."

Bourns, chairman of trade body Great British Chicken, said he was also firmly in the pro-egg camp.

He said: "Eggs were around long before the first chicken arrived. Of course, they may not have been chicken eggs as we see them today, but they were eggs."

The debate, which may come as a relief to those with argumentative relatives, was organized by Disney to promote the release of the film "Chicken Little" on DVD.
So, now that this entire branch of philosophy has been cleared up, any reactions?

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There is still the matter of the road. Nothing has been resolved.

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Well, I'm at least pretty sure that Salmon is losing.


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Warrior
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Who cares? I'd rather know something useful, like how my computer works.

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Polaris
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Call the Vatican.

(That it works at all is a miracle.)

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Well, I'm at least pretty sure that Salmon is losing.


Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Infiltrator
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Who laid the egg in the first place? A turkey maybe?

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When you think you can't get any lower in life and hit rock bottom, God hands you a shovel.

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Shock Trooper
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Everytime I start to think on this question, I come to a conclusion that the process musthave been more complicated than spontaneous birth of a chicken from an egg layed by non-chicken.
Also here this question may bring the discussion on genetics again, doubling "The Big Club Theory" :)

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Gnome Dwarf Slith
Giant Troll Troglo
Human Nephil Vahnatai
"If the mask under mask to SE of mask to the left of mask and to the right of me is the mask below the mask to the right of mask to the right of mask below me is the same, then who am I?"

radix: +2 nicothodes: +1 salmon:+1
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Law Bringer
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Why is anything from which a chicken hatches a chicken egg? If a chicken hatched from a very large frog's egg would it still be a chicken egg?

—Alorael, who would prefer to say that eggs predated birds in general in evolution. All birds lay eggs and the chicken evolved from some egg-laying forebear. Therefore the first chicken hatched from an egg regardless of the egg's classification. An egg came first.
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Law Bringer
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Rather than "one" egg that was laid by non-chicken parents and hatched as a chicken, there were probably several hundred generations of these, each one looking a bit closer to a chicken. The scope and speed of evolution tends to get exaggerated, which is one reason fundamentalists find it so hard to believe.

[ Saturday, May 27, 2006 22:29: Message edited by: Henry Anthony Wilcox ]

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I knew it. I always said the egg.
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Speciation is probably a fuzzy logic sort of thing. It's supposed to be about the possibility of interbreeding, isn't it? But that probably doesn't happen overnight. The rate of spontaneous abortion resulting from breeding between two populations would just gradually increase, until eventually there were never any offspring; then, much later, with the two gene pools now totally separate, the two species might begin to diverge dramatically in visible ways.

So the line between chicken and proto-chicken would be a fuzzy one. Could we interpret the fuzziness as a sharp line that gets drawn randomly, and say that wherever it got drawn it would always be between proto-hen and chicken egg? I'm not so sure, because I'm not so sure that genetics doesn't change after conception. What if a living proto-chicken has a mutation in its reproductive organs, whether from natural radiation damage to its DNA, or from a virus, or from replication error during cell division?

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...b10010b...
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quote:
Originally written by Student of Trinity:

Speciation is probably a fuzzy logic sort of thing. It's supposed to be about the possibility of interbreeding, isn't it?
That's a definition of species you hear a lot, but there are plenty of evolutionary biologists who don't really take it all that seriously any more.

For one thing, many species don't reproduce sexually at all, so the concept of "interbreeding" simply doesn't apply to them.

For another, some populations which are widely recognised as separate species can produce fertile hybrids. In some cases these hybrids break down after a few generations, but in others the hybrids remain viable and fertile indefinitely.

And then there are "ring species", which are populations spread out across a continuous geographic region; individuals near each other can interbreed easily, while individuals at opposite ends of the region can't interbreed.
quote:
So the line between chicken and proto-chicken would be a fuzzy one. Could we interpret the fuzziness as a sharp line that gets drawn randomly, and say that wherever it got drawn it would always be between proto-hen and chicken egg?
"Arbitrarily" is a better word than "randomly". Decide exactly how you're going to define a chicken and a chicken egg, and then you'll be able to sensibly answer the question of which came first -- but your answer will simply arise from the definitions you chose.

[ Sunday, May 28, 2006 00:42: Message edited by: Thuryl ]

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Electric Sheep One
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Thanks; these examples all ring bells now that I read them again, but it has been a while since I was all keen on evolutionary biology, and the stuff has reached its half-life.

In speaking of fuzzy concepts and random lines, I was alluding to fuzzy set theory. The plausibility weight used for fuzzy sets behaves just like probability, so you can always interpret a fuzzy definition as a biased random generator of arbitrary definitions, and this is often a good way of expressing subtle issues. But identifying plausibility and probability is controversial. I have a feeling that if I understood that controversy better I might understand quantum mechanics better, too.

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Only on Spiderweb will a discussion about the chicken and the egg turn into a discussion about evolutionary biology.

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But I don't want to ride the elevator.
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Shaper
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That article is full of bad puns.

Thuryl, did you write that?

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:ph34r:
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Shock Trooper
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quote:
Originally written by Little Billy Sue:

Only on Spiderweb will a discussion about the chicken and the egg turn into a discussion about evolutionary biology.
The Big Club theory showed a better example :)

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9 masks sing in a choir:
Gnome Dwarf Slith
Giant Troll Troglo
Human Nephil Vahnatai
"If the mask under mask to SE of mask to the left of mask and to the right of me is the mask below the mask to the right of mask to the right of mask below me is the same, then who am I?"

radix: +2 nicothodes: +1 salmon:+1
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E Equals MC What!!!!
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quote:
Originally written by Henry Anthony Wilcox:

The scope and speed of evolution tends to get exaggerated, which is one reason fundamentalists find it so hard to believe.
While I realize you meant no offense by this, I'd caution against presuming too much about other people's beliefs.

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Off With Their Heads
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He did say one reason, not the only reason. That's not presuming too much, I suspect.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

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But many fundies have no problem with that reason. There is assumption in that statement.

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??? ??????
???? ?????
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Off With Their Heads
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He didn't say "all fundamentalists." He simply used a plural: more than one fundamentalist.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

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The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
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And the conversation moves back to safe grounds...

Arguing over word choice and hidden meanings.

Wheeeeeeeeee!

:P

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Well, I'm at least pretty sure that Salmon is losing.


Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00
Warrior
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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

He didn't say "all fundamentalists." He simply used a plural: more than one fundamentalist.
There is no reason to assume the two are meaningfully separate.
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Law Bringer
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Rephrased:

"I have known at least one person who I would class as a fundamentalist who argued against the feasibility of macro-evolution based on at least partly this reason."

:rolleyes:

[ Sunday, May 28, 2006 11:25: Message edited by: Henry Anthony Wilcox ]

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"Which came first: the signifier or the signified?"

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Of course... discussions on evolutionary biology eventually turn into spam...

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But I don't want to ride the elevator.
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quote:
Originally written by Little Billy Sue:

Of course... discussions on evolutionary biology eventually turn into spam...
And now it becomes a Monty Python skit.

Well done, Sir.

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quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

Well, I'm at least pretty sure that Salmon is losing.


Posts: 4114 | Registered: Monday, April 25 2005 07:00

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