Q. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
A. The egg of course. The first egg, with a hard outer covering that could survive on land, was laid about 800 million years ago. (About 100 million years before the dinosaurs.)

Before this, the amphibious ancestors of the reptiles - creatures like the ichthyostega had to return to the water to lay their eggs.

Hylonomus, of Nova Scotia Canada, was one of the first known reptiles (and as such was the first creature to lay an egg, known as the 'amniote egg' on land).

Q. What bird laid the largest egg?
A. The Elephant Bird (now extinct) -- a 10ft tall ostrich like flightless bird found in Madagascar a million years ago. The eggs weighed around 12kg (24lb) and held 2 gallons. A fossilised egg from one of these birds was found recently by some children in Western Australia.

Q. How many eggs do hens lay?
A. The record for egg laying in domestic chickens is held by a Black Orpington which laid 861 eggs in 864 days.

Q. How long should you boil an ostrich egg?
A. An average sized ostrich egg weighs about 1.5kg, and takes 40 minutes to cook.

Q. What do a ship and an egg yolk have in common?
A. They both have an anchor. The egg yolk has two in fact. They are called chalazae and are the little white strings of twisted albumen attached to the sides of the yolk. They are not imperfections or beginning embryos but a natural, edible part of the egg. They keep the yolk centred in the thick white.

Q. Why are some hard boiled eggs difficult to peel?
A. Because they are TOO fresh. Eggs which have been stored for a week to ten days before cooking will usually peel more easily. To help make peeling easier, cool the eggs immediately and thoroughly in cold water after cooking.

Q. Why are some baked custards grainy and runny instead of smooth?
A. Custards baked at too high a temperature or for too long cause egg protein to coagulate and shrink. Holes form in the custard and thin liquid seeps out.

Q. What had the first feathers but couldn't fly well?
A. The earliest bird-like creature, Archaeopteryx, was about the size of a crow and was a descendent of the dinosaurs. It was a fascinating mixture of reptile and bird - had wings covered with feathers, a long tail, plenty of teeth in its bony beak and fingers with sharp claws. It couldn't fly well but could climb trees to lay its eggs in a nest

Q. How long will eggs keep?
A. Fresh shell eggs can be kept refrigerated in their carton well beyond the 'best before' date. Eggs will age more in one day at room temperature than in one week in the refrigerator. If not properly refrigerated an egg loses carbon dioxide and water which causes it to spread out more when broken into a pan. Refrigerate hard boiled eggs as soon as they are cooled and use within a week. Raw white will keep up to 4 days if refrigerated in a tightly covered container. Unbroken raw yolks, covered with water in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator, should be used within 1 or 2 days.

Q. Do hens have teeth?
A. No but the archaeopteryx did.

Q. What is the name of the first real bird?
A. It hasn't been given a name yet. The first fossil of a modern bird, with the flight and perching abilities of today's birds, has just been discovered in China and is owned by the Beijing Natural History Museum. It is about the size of a sparrow and it came about 10 million years after the archaeopteryx. This bird retained many dinosaur-like features and scientists are very excited to have found this clear link between dinosaurs and the birds of today.

Q. Why do some hard boiled eggs have a discoloured yolk?
A. If hard boiled eggs are overcooked, a dark ring will form around the yolk. The iron in the yolk combines with the sulphur in the white forming the dark iron sulphide ring. To prevent this happening don't overcook and cool quickly in iced water.

Q. Why are some eggs brown and some eggs white?
A. Shell colour is determined by the breed of hen and is not related to quality, nutrients, flavour, or cooking characteristics. Generally speaking, although there are some exceptions - eggs with white shells are laid by hens with white feathers. Eggs with brown shells are laid by hens with brown or black feathers.

Q. What is the ideal protein?
A. The protein found in eggs is the standard against which all other protein foods are measured. Egg white(albumen) is a complex mixture of over forty different types of protein.