On 5 June 2016, the Facebook page “Spoon & Tamago” published a video purportedly showing a group of high school students hatching a chick without an eggshell “for the first time in history”:
For the first time in history, a group of Japanese high-schoolers have found a way to hatch an egg, without the egg! Now biology classes can observe development while still keeping the chick alive!
Although the video does show a chick being hatched outside an eggshell, this footage does not capture the “first time in history” that this feat was accomplished. Also, the pictured technique was not developed by the group of high school students seen in the clip.
The video features Professors Yutaka Tahara and Katsuya Obara demonstrating a “shell-less culture system,” a process in which a chicken egg is artificially fertilized and placed in a clear sterile vessel, and the fetus is developed in an incubator, as described in a paper published by the Journal of Poultry Science in 2014:
The development of shell-less culture methods for bird embryos with high hatchability would be useful for the efficient generation of transgenic chickens, embryo manipulations, tissue engineering, and basic studies in regenerative medicine. To date, studies of culture methods for bird embryos include the whole embryo culture using narrow windowed eggshells, surrogate eggshells, and an artificial vessel using a gas-permeable membrane. However, there are no reports achieving high hatchability of >50% using completely artificial vessels. To establish a simple method for culturing chick embryos with high hatchability, we examined various culture conditions, including methods for calcium supplementation and oxygen aeration. In the embryo cultures where the embryos were transferred to the culture vessel after 55-56 h incubation, more than 90% of embryos survived until day 17 when a polymethylpentene film was used as a culture vessel with calcium lactate and distilled water supplementations. The aeration of pure oxygen to the surviving embryos from day 17 yielded a hatchability of 57.1% (8 out of 14). Thus, we successfully achieved a high hatchability with this method in chicken embryo culture using an artificial vessel.
Not only does this footage not constitute the “first time in history” that the feat of “eggless chicken hatching” has been accomplished, it doesn’t even constitute the first time the event has been captured on camera: