one needs to define chicken. a chicken is one which can mate and have kids with at least one chicken in existence. if you were to go back in time, there would be the first chicken capable of doing this. that chicken came in the form of an egg.
that chicken came from a chicken hybrid. all other attempts to answer this question wrongly define chicken. once chicken is properly defined, one has to conclude that the egg came first
One does indeed need to define a chicken, and given our present cultural context, the phrase “chicken or the egg” refers to what we commonly understand to be the domesticated chicken: Gallus domesticus.
Gallus domesticus descends from the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), possibly by interbreeding with the grey junglefowl (Gallus sonneratii), as much as 8,000 years ago. Gallus domesticus no longer shares all the genetic traits of its ancestors, making it a distinct category of chicken. Modern backyard chickens are less aggressive and have a different body composition than their wild counterparts. (http://archaeology.about.com...)
The history of the chicken answers the question plainly. First, we had Gallus gallus and Gallus sonneratii eggs, then humans worked with the offspring of said eggs to produce biological changes ideal for domestication. Only when man was satisfied with the domestication was the product reclassified to Gallus domesticus.
The organism was first declared chicken by man, after which came the eggs of said chicken.
Taxonomic classifications do not work that way. There is wide genetic diversity within Gallus domesticus, yet they all fall under the same category. It is reasonable that as selective breeding was performed on Gallus gallus, genetic diversity was not sufficient to warrant a new classification. Indeed, the only way to determine success was to evaluate the fowl after it was born.
It’s impossible to track down the first egg of Gallus domesticus without first isolating the first adult Gallus domesticus.
My opponent’s mistake is thinking that the question of “which came first” is a question of biology, when in fact it is a question of category. The word “chicken” is categorical, bringing to mind what we now biologically classify as Gallus domesticus. Using my opponent’s own claim that chickens come from a less-than-chicken ancestor, I showed that categorically, the wild fowl becomes a chicken only when observers have chosen to reclassify it.
My opponent responds that once the chicken is categorized, we can then categorize the egg from whence it came. This, however, is a mistake in chronology. The egg can only be categorized as a chicken egg after the wild fowl has been categorized as chicken. Thus, the “chicken” egg came after the “chicken.”
Thank you for your time and consideration for this fun little debate over an age old question.