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Embryo: the egg after fertilization and before it has developed into a recognizable form.

Mammal: warm-blooded animal with fur.

human baby

Even human babies began in a special kind of egg without a shell.

Would you believe that you were once in an egg? During the earliest stage of development, animals grow inside an egg. This is true for insects, fish, birds, and for you. That’s right, even mammals (including people) have eggs. Nine months prior to our births, we all started out in a special type of egg that doesn’t have a shell.

Even though people don’t develop inside of an eggshell, many eggs do have shells. This helps keep the growing young (which are called “embryos” when they’re in eggs) protected from the world outside, while also making room for a bunch of food inside, kind of like the house you live in.

Starling Eggs

The eggs of birds, like these starling eggs, have hard shells.

The walls help protect embryos from the germs, predators, and temperature outside, and make some space inside to keep extra food. Eggs are well stocked with food because moms typically put yolk in their eggs or they send food into the eggs during development.

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Bibliographic details:

  • Article: Don’t Judge an Egg by Its cover
  • Author(s): Zachary Stahlschmidt
  • Publisher: Arizona State University School of Life Sciences Ask A Biologist
  • Site name: ASU - Ask A Biologist
  • Date published: February 20, 2012
  • Date accessed: June 12, 2024
  • Link:

APA Style

Zachary Stahlschmidt. (2012, February 20). Don’t Judge an Egg by Its cover. ASU - Ask A Biologist. Retrieved June 12, 2024 from

American Psychological Association. For more info, see

Chicago Manual of Style

Zachary Stahlschmidt. "Don’t Judge an Egg by Its cover". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 20 February, 2012.

MLA 2017 Style

Zachary Stahlschmidt. "Don’t Judge an Egg by Its cover". ASU - Ask A Biologist. 20 Feb 2012. ASU - Ask A Biologist, Web. 12 Jun 2024.

Modern Language Association, 7th Ed. For more info, see
python eggs

A water python (Liasis fuscus) mom finds a nest and lays her eggs. Photo by Z. Stahlschmidt.

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