When faced with the old conundrum of which came first, the chicken or the egg, the chicken would seem to be the most logical answer. But that's not quite right. In fact, the egg came into existence long before the chicken. Research has shown that its development may have begun several billion years ago, although not in the form that we are familiar with from modern-day hens. A brief look at the history of our domesticated hen may help to shed a little light on the egg and chicken conundrum.
The ancestors of our familiar chicken were egg-laying raptors that were also fairly dangerous creatures. The changes over time from the extremely heavy, two-legged lizards from the line of raptors, to the present-day chicken that can almost fly, was a very long evolutionary process. The reptiles exchanged their scales for feathers 150 million years ago. Only the scales on modern chickens' feet still bear witness to their ancestors – along with the clutch of eggs they lay!
So this brings us back to our egg, which in terms of evolutionary development was definitely there before the chicken, but in the contemporary version has a hard calcareous shell. So, the journey from a prehistoric creature, the feathered dinosaur, to our domestic chicken was a very long one. The red comb-chicken is regarded historically as a progenitor of our domestic chicken. Previous studies show that almost 8,000 years ago people in Asia reared the first domesticated chicken from the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus), as bone finds from the Neolithic period prove.
At that time, humans developed away from hunters and gatherers into settled farmers. In Central Europe, the first evidence of humans keeping chickens can be found in the early Iron Age. Back then they were always kept in hen houses, as they tended to wander off and could also fly. In Spain it was the Phoenicians who domesticated chickens in the 1st millennium B.C., while findings in Switzerland from the 5th / 4th century B.C. suggest that chickens were farmed for food. In Ancient Greece, chickens were reared mainly for cock fights and less for consumption.