Segments in this Video

Introduction: The Egg: Life's Perfect Invention (04:05)


Eggs protect life while allowing respiratory processes. Scientific research, funded by the poultry industry, focuses on chicken types. All animal species create eggs, but birds produce the greatest variation.

Adaptions for Laying (04:12)

Emperor Penguins incubate eggs in subzero temperatures. During spring in Oxfordshire, Grey and Blue Tits build nests; they digest broken snail shells, recycling the calcium for eggshell production.

Egg Creation (06:34)

Some female birds store sperm before insemination, waiting to gain sufficient mass for egg formation. After fertilization, yolks journey down the oviduct, become coated in albumen, and travel to the uterus, where calcium carbonite and pigments are applied to the membrane.

Superlative Range (05:50)

Heinrich Wickmann determined chickens eject the blunt end of eggs first. Laying orientations, proportions, and clutch size vary between species; their hot-blooded nature allows a great variation in nest conditions and location.

Clutch Control (04:53)

Grey Tits shed feathers from an abdominal patch, helping regulate heat, and do not incubate until filling the nest. They manage their young’s development in response to weather conditions, coordinating hatching times with food availability.

Inner Transformation (05:44)

Eggshells are porous, allowing embryos to breathe; shell accessory materials protect bodies from harmful bacteria. The antimicrobial, protein rich albumen defends the nourishing yolk. Water vapors diffuse through shell pores, creating space at the blunt end wherein chicks grow and respire.

Cuckoo Camouflage (06:07)

Eggshell appearances vary for survival purposes. Prof. Nick Davies tests color importance by switching a Reed Warbler’s green egg with a red one; mimicry is essential to tricking the bird into surrogacy. Dr. Mary Caswell Stoddard analyzes shell patterns.

Formed for Protection (05:59)

Egg shapes vary from round to conical; the Guillemot type is unusually elongated. Prof. Tim Birkhead studies a colony in Britain; egg form is an adaptation to defend against bacteria present in feces.

Formed for Flight (03:18)

Stoddard analyzes 50,000 egg shapes, finding a link between elongated types and flying abilities; streamlining eggs enables parents to carry enough protein for development while taking air. She and Birkhead assert that variations exist for a variety of reasons.

Perfect Life Support System (05:11)

As bird embryos grow, their bones absorb calcium; they break the shell using a beak tooth. Jungle fowl chicks chirp, encouraging nest mates to hatch. The Tits feed their young caterpillars; many species have not been thoroughly researched.

Credits: The Egg: Life's Perfect Invention (00:49)

Credits: The Egg: Life's Perfect Invention

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The Egg: Life's Perfect Invention

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The egg is perhaps nature’s most perfect life support system. Step by step as the egg hatches, host David Attenborough reveals the wonder behind these incredible miracles of nature.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: FMK188616

Copyright date: ©2019

Closed Captioned

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