What’s more, the kinds of experiments that past scientists could only dream of are now so achievable that we can watch them on social media during our lunch break.
That’s what Yuriy Yaniv, better known as the YouTube vlogger SlivkiShow, provided over the last month or so when he successfully hatched a chick out of a drinking glass.
Although the video is only ten minutes long, Yaniv explains that the experiment took three years to successfully complete – and came with more than its fair share of disappointment.
“Over the course of three years we tried to hatch hundreds of eggs, and tried dozens of breeds of different chicken,” Yaniv explains in the video. “There have been many failures, but we tried not to give up.”
But it’s worth it, as the footage he shows us is simply marvelous.
The clear “shells” allow the viewer to see the chicken embryos move and develop in astonishing detail. At first, there is nothing but a tiny heartbeat. Soon, we can see something vaguely resembling an embryo. The details become sharper, and we start to see eyes, limbs, and even a tiny beak. By day 15, Yaniv points out, we can see the chick’s ear – something obscured by feathers in a hatched or grown chicken.
“I can’t believe we are able to capture such beautiful shots of the development of the chicken embryo,” he says on day 12 of the experiment. “In just two days it’s almost doubled. Feathers [have] appeared on the tail and sides. We can’t even imagine how complicated the process in front of our eyes is.”
After the 17th day of development, the unhatched chick starts to need oxygen. Normally, air reaches the developing embryo through the shell, which is permeable. To recreate this, Yaniv set up a system to pump pure oxygen to the embryo. All seemed to be going well – until, on day 20, disaster struck.
“There was almost no yolk left. We were almost sure that everything would work out, because there was only less than one day left,” Yaniv says. “But then something happened, and the embryo died.”
After a long string of losses, Yaniv says, he almost lost hope. But one morning, he heard something: a cheep from the incubator.
“I opened it and I couldn’t believe it,” he says. “There was something alive! That’s a chicken!”
Yaniv moved the chick to a brand new home: a cardboard box lined with kitchen towel. A reptile lamp was installed to keep the tiny bird warm, and he was crafted a nest out of hay to live in – what more could a growing chick want?
But the challenges were far from over. In a follow-up video, so far only available in the original Ukrainian, Yaniv explains that the chick was initially very sluggish, and wouldn’t eat or drink.
“We gave him a drink, but he refused, or simply didn’t know how to do it,” he explains. “Usually after chicks hatch they are cared for by their mother – they know what to do. But for us, every step would be more complicated.”
Then, inspiration hits: “We thought he might be bad at seeing the grains against the background of the napkin,” Yaniv says. “We put it on a black background, and it worked!”
After figuring out how to eat and drink, the chick looks strong and healthy – and he is getting lots of fresh air and sunshine too. And for when Yaniv doesn’t have time to look after him, he has a babysitter: a mama chicken made of towels and old socks.
So what next for the miniature marvel? If his namesake is anything to go by, he certainly has an exciting future ahead of him – and Yaniv should watch out.
“We called the chicken Rambo,” Yaniv says in the video. “After all, he managed to pass some very difficult tests, and survive.”