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Hilarious Eggsplanations

, , , , , | Right | December 31, 2021

I’m doing undergraduate research in a lab. Our number shows first when looking up the university phone number, so we get some odd calls.

Me: “Hello, [University] genetics lab.”

Caller: “Hello, I’m a journalist from [Local Newspaper]. I needed some information about the recent eclipse.”

Me: “You probably want to talk to the physics department, then.”

Caller: “No, no, I want to speak to some biologist. You see, a farmer called us today with a story of her chicken laying an egg with a starburst on it.”

I start chuckling and put the phone on speaker.

Me: “Okay, so what do you need to know?”

Caller: “I want to run a piece about this chicken, but I need a scientific explanation about how the starburst may have formed. Is it possible that the chicken was scared of the eclipse, and that she transferred the distress onto the egg somehow? You know, like in that movie.”

Me: “Excuse me, which movie?”

Caller: “The one with the elephant.”

My colleagues have stopped working and are silently cracking up in the background. Meanwhile, the head researcher looks like she’s about to blow a gasket

I have clocked by now what movie he is referring to, but I just want to milk this call for all it’s worth.

Me: “Er, I’m afraid I don’t know what movie you’re referencing.”

Caller: “This guy’s mother saw an elephant and caught a fright, and the baby was born looking like an elephant. Is it possible that it happened with the chicken?”

Yes, the movie “Elephant Man” does discuss the theory… as a clue to how backward was the science in those days. Quoting that to a lab full of people who are specialising in genetics, however, will only get you laughed out of the building. The head researcher reaches the end of her tether and comes up to the phone.

Researcher: “For God’s sake, mister, educate yourself! John Merrick suffered from a genetic disease; those were growths on his body! And chickens don’t get scared of eclipses; they just go to sleep!”

Caller: “B-but… what about the starburst?”

Researcher: “There are several factors that will impact on the eggshell appearance, from chicken age to viral infections to mineral imbalance. There is no mechanism for a chicken to record distressing events onto the eggshell, and what would be the evolutionary benefit—”

Caller: “But it’s starburst shaped!”

Researcher: “That’s all you know.”

The caller quit it at this point. We had fun coming up with “scientific explanations” in the following days. My favourite was that the chicken, frightened by the eclipse, had clenched her “egg hole” so tight that it had left an imprint on the shell…

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