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Sci-Tech

Video shows how to incubate an egg without the shell

A class of high school students in Japan have used a plastic cup and cling film to incubate and "hatch" a chicken egg without the shell.

Screenshot by Michelle Starr/CNET

You can't unscramble an egg (unboiling them is another matter), but you may still be able to get a living chicken out of one even when there's no shell. According to a video posted to the Facebook page of website Spoon & Tamago, a high school biology class in Japan has done just that.

The method of "hatching" a shell-less egg was first described in a paper published in 2014 in Japan's Journal of Poultry Science. The research was conducted by Oihama High School and Takanedai Animal Clinic, and involves calcium supplementation and sufficient aeration.

Using this method, eight of the 14 eggs used for the research paper hatched live chicks (and they were obtained from a supermarket!). That may not seem like a lot, but it's a good rate for an artificial vessel.

"If we can obtain a stable hatchability, this method could facilitate the generation of transgenic chickens and other embryonic manipulations, which are required for basic studies in regenerative medicine. It could also support tissue culture, studies using avian embryonic stem cells, and the mass production of chicken eggs as living bioreactors," the paper read.

"The shell-less culture technique for chick embryos also potentially plays an important role in the education of school children in life sciences, through the direct observation of embryonic development."

If you have the tools on hand (read the paper for a methodology), you could try it yourself at home. It wouldn't be the first time an incubated supermarket egg had resulted in a live chick.