Each year, scientists discover an average of 15,000 new species, usually ones that are highly endangered.
It is an age-old riddle that has perplexed generations: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Now British scientists claim to have finally come up with the definitive answer: The chicken.
The scientific and philosophical mystery was purportedly unraveled by researchers at Sheffield and Warwick universities, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.
The scientists found that a protein found only in a chicken's ovaries is necessary for the formation of the egg, according to the paper Wednesday. The egg can therefore only exist if it has been created inside a chicken.
The protein speeds up the development of the hard shell, which is essential in protecting the delicate yolk and fluids while the chick grows inside the egg, the report said.
"It had long been suspected that the egg came first but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first," said Dr. Colin Freeman, from Sheffield University's Department of Engineering Materials, according to the Mail.
"The protein had been identified before and it was linked to egg formation, but by examining it closely we have been able to see how it controls the process," he said.
Professor John Harding, from the same department, said the discovery could have other uses, according to the Daily Mail.
"Understanding how chickens make egg shells is fascinating in itself but can also give clues towards designing new materials and processes," he said.
"Nature has found innovative solutions that work for all kinds of problems in materials science and technology — we can learn a lot from them."
The discovery was revealed in the paper Structural Control Of Crystal Nuclei By An Eggshell Protein.
Long before Darwin and Wallace, farmers and breeders were using the idea of selection to cause major changes in the features of their plants and animals over the course of decades. Farmers and breeders allowed only the plants and animals with desirable characteristics to reproduce, causing the evolution of farm stock. This process is called artificial selection because people (instead of nature) select which organisms get to reproduce.
Farmers have cultivated numerous popular crops from the wild mustard, by artificially selecting for certain attributes.
Photo compliments of USDA Agricultural Research Service, where researchers have selectively bred carrots with pigments that reflect almost all colours of the rainbow. More importantly, though, they are very good for your health.
Photo by Stephen Ausmus, USDA.