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Home » Dave’s DiegesesSeptember 2005 » Dave’s Diegesis: Eggcellent

Dave’s Diegesis: Eggcellent

I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its eggs in my brain, because later you might think you’re having a good idea but it’s just eggs hatching.
Jack Handy

Still haven’t heard from NESN even though I submitted my resumé, as urged by their recent commercials. I’m thinking they are waiting until the postseason to ramp up. And when they do, I’ll be waiting. Until then, I’m like a little hatchling waiting to spring forth from my shell.

Which got me to thinking: what if humans were oviparous? That is to say, what if we were like birds that lay eggs, within with our embryos would gestate? Would we develop special brooding ceremonies? Instead of baby showers perhaps we would participate in arcane rites where protective glyphs would be rendered upon the shells of our offspring. I would venture to say that the reduced sexual dimorphism would result in a more egalitarian society. Without a single sex having the sole obligation of carrying progeny within its body, there would less biological basis for the subjugation of one sex.

One can imagine that the trafficking of young would be more feasible. Laws regarding the commerce of human life prior to hatching would need to be strengthened. Or would the very fabric of humanity’s assumptions about child-rearing change since we were not viviparous? Would egg switching be a common practice? How about brood parasitism?

The most famous practitioner of brood parasitism is the cuckoo bird. Female cuckoos lay their eggs in another species’s nest. To fool the host mother, the egg will mimic the host’s egg. In fact, female European Cuckoos (Cuculus canorus) are divided into specific genetic groups that lay differently patterned eggs to target specific host species. The eggs laid by a female European Cuckoo are indistinguishable from their host’s and retain their host’s pattern regardless of the male parent. Cuckoo embryos develop more quickly than their host species, so when they hatch they will instinctively jostle the host’s eggs out of the nest. Cuckoo chicks are even equipped with a depression in their backs to aid with the disposition of their would-be competitors.

I think I’m driving myself a bit cuckoo with nothing to do and no baseball to play. That’s what you get for putting all your eggs into one basket, I suppose. I’ve heard it’s better to have a hen tomorrow than an egg today anyway. So I’ll forget all that existential angst and just learn to take a yolk.

Every Friday, Dave McCarty will join us to discuss a topic of interest to him and probably no one else but the author of this site and other lone birdwatching geeks trying to find a nesting place.

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