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Posted by Paul R. Martin on September 11, 2001 00:44:16 UTC

Alex,

Do two thought experiments:

1. Start with a chicken, identify its mother, then identify her mother, then identify her mother, and keep going back until you reach some point millions of years ago when you have definitely run out of chickens. Mark that spot in time.

2. Start with the same chicken, identify the egg it hatched from, then identify the animal which laid the egg it hatched from, then identify the animal which laid the egg it hatched from, then identify the animal which laid the egg it hatched from, and keep going back until you reach some point hundreds of millions of years ago when you run out of eggs. Mark that spot in time.

After the results of those experiments are in, compare those two spots in time to see which came first.

The point is that lots of other animals lay eggs besides chickens, and many of those animals laid eggs long before there were any chickens. In particular, whatever evolutionary line of animals eventually resulted in chickens had a long tradition of egg-laying before the chickens arrived on the scene.

Warm regards,

Paul

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