As Scarce as Hens' Teeth!



Perhaps you've heard the phrase. But do you know the real story? Here's the explanation from someone with experience.

Sometimes when people talk about things that are very rare, they will use an old expression, "they're as scarce as hens' teeth!" Everybody knows that chickens don't have teeth. Their food, which includes hard grain seeds, is ground up in their craws.

What most people don't know is that birds, including chickens, start out with a tooth. Yes, that's right, one tooth that is designed to crack a shell. It would be impossible for a baby chick to come out of its shell if it didn't have that tooth.

We always had a number of chickens on our farm when I was growing up. We would build nests where each hen would lay her daily egg, a contribution to Mom's huge breakfast of buttered biscuits and blue cane molasses.

Sometimes one of the hens would slip off beyond the edge of the yard and make her own nest so that her eggs wouldn't be taken each day. In a couple of weeks or so, she would have a nest full. Then she would begin "setting" on them.

Most of her 24-hour day would be spent sitting on top of the eggs to keep them a certain temperature. She would come off only briefly to eat and drink. It takes about three weeks for eggs to produce a batch of fuzzy little baby chicks.

The breakout!

I have reached under a mother hen a day or two before it's time for the eggs to hatch and held one of the eggs to my ear. It's not always a wise thing to do, for a setting hen often has an "attitude." But anyway, if you take one of those eggs and quietly listen to it, you can hear a little tapping noise going on inside it. The baby chick is breaking out!

Soon a little hole will open up and gradually get bigger. About all you can see at this time is the tip of a very small beak. Somehow as it breaks through, the chick also turns, creating a small crack that forms a circle until the egg opens up for the chick to join the rest of the family.

Some believe that the tapping is also communication to the other unhatched chicks that it is time for a breakout. The first and last eggs may have more than 14 days difference in the time they were laid, yet they all hatch on pretty much the same day because the hen begins sitting on the eggs after they are all laid (4-H Virtual Farm, https://www.ext.vt.edu ).

A hard egg to crack!

The eggshell is made of hard calcium. How is a baby chick able to break through the hard inner surface of an egg? Its beak at that time is very soft.

Once, years ago, I was playing with some newly hatched baby chicks and noticed one of them had what I thought was some foreign object stuck to the end of its little beak. I tried to brush it off, but it was stuck there. It was then I noticed that they all had them—sharp little projections right on the end of their beaks, hard enough to punch through an eggshell.

This "egg tooth" is a hard, toothlike projection that develops on the beak of embryonic birds and also on the upper jaw of embryonic reptiles. It is used to cut the egg membrane and shell upon hatching. It later falls off in a week or so.

The little bird embryo develops inside a membrane sac within the shell. Early in its development, it doesn't need much oxygen to live. It can get enough from what it absorbs through the pores of the eggshell. But as it grows in the egg, it needs more oxygen.

Baby birds have a special muscle, called a pipping muscle, on the back of their necks. This muscle gives the chick extra strength to hammer against the shell. It is this muscle that gives it the strength to force the egg tooth through the inner membrane of the eggshell.

Finally, just before hatching, it will use its egg tooth to peck a hole in the air sac located at the flat end of the egg. This sac provides a few hours' worth of air, during which the baby bird breaks through the eggshell to the outside.

"Chicks in a clutch may make a clicking noise (sometimes clicking at a rate of over a hundred clicks per second) that enables them to communicate with the other chicks that are hatching, so that they can synchronize hatching. This is often the case with ground hatching birds that will usually abandon the nest site once chicks are hatched, to help avoid detection by predators by not staying too long in one place. For example, the female quail lays her eggs over two weeks, and yet the eggs will hatch together" (www.tiscali.co.uk ).

Which came first?

Which came first—the chicken or the egg? It's a legitimate question. Or the chicken or the chicken's tooth? Evolutionists would have you believe that the chicken evolved a little at a time.

Can you imagine the first chick in an egg with no egg tooth to peck its way out? Of course that doesn't address the question of how the parent birds arrived! They would have no need of an egg tooth unless they were stuck in an egg. How long would it take a chicken to evolve one? Perhaps they all died out unhatched because they couldn't get out of the eggs. But that didn't happen because we have billions of birds.

How could chickens survive or reproduce if they were not made complete from the beginning?

So how do evolutionists explain this? They say that chickens probably used their claws until the development of the egg tooth. But if their claws were working, why would they need to develop that temporary tooth? It just doesn't make sense.

What does make sense is that God made His awesome creation complete from the beginning. You would think that humans could see that the remarkable little chick's tooth is not only just enough to break through the eggshell but also enough to put a big hole in the theory of evolution as well. VT


linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

What a nice article! Very informative! Thank you! It brings back memories when years ago I had chickens. I had hens making nests all over the place. It was an exciting time when I would notice that an egg had lost abit of the shell, but the membrane was still intact. I knew then that it would not be long before the chick would hatch.

I can see why the knocking in the shell is so important. That outer hard shell had to be cracked and piece by piece a hole in the shell was made. Because of your article, now I understand that the small tooth cut a hole in the membrane! In some stages I saw like a slit in the membrane as if someone made a surgical cut! How wonderful God is and what he has made!



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