Sorry, Chicken; Fossil Proves Egg Came First

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 14, 2008 2:00 PM CST
A model of the head of a dinosaur.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The contents of a fossilized dinosaur nest may help resolve the age-old chicken-and-egg question, LiveScience reports. That birds evolved from dinosaurs is no secret, but the new discovery shows that the pointy-ended bird egg developed before the bird itself, paleontologists say. The nest is believed to have belonged to one of two small, carnivorous dinosaur species.

Intact nests of the small meat-eating dinosaurs, the direct ancestors of birds, are rare; only one other has been found in North America. The egg-laying pattern scientists discerned from the nest is also much closer to that of a bird than, say, a crocodile's. “The egg came before the chicken,” one of the researchers said. “Chickens evolved well after the meat-eating dinosaurs that laid these eggs.”