Home SCIENCE How Birds Get Oxygen Inside Their Eggs – There Are Microscopic Holes!

How Birds Get Oxygen Inside Their Eggs – There Are Microscopic Holes!


A beautiful tour of the system that keeps chicks from suffocating before they hatch.Adam Cole of the NPR series Skunk Bear explained through very clever animation, how birds and other oviparous animals get in the necessary oxygen and expel carbon dioxide within the hard shell of an egg in order to allow the burgeoning embryo inside to thrive and eventually hatch and draw breath on its own.

source/image: Skunk Bear

A few days after an egg is laid when you hold a fertilized egg up in front of a bright light you can see it a delicate network of blood vessels that grows out of the embryos abdomen and presses up against a membrane.

Just inside the shell oxygen from the air comes in through the tiny holes in the shell and then diffuse into the embryos blood and the growing chick gets rid of carbon dioxide at the same time. The two membranes pull apart a little and create a small pocket or sack of air./mentalfloss.


Several thousand microscopic pores all over the surface of the egg allow the CO2 to escape and fresh air to get in.These pores also allow moisture to get into the egg to keep developing bird and the egg parts from drying out, which is why hard-boiled eggs always feel a little heavier than raw ones.

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