LONDON, UK – An egg laid by a Great Elephant Bird in the 17th century has gone on sale for £5,000.
John Shepherd, an antiques dealer, has placed the egg on sale at the Chelsea Antiques Fair in London. The paleontologist bought it after seeing one in a nature documentary. “The egg has a great social history. The Madagascan Elephant Bird was the only giant bird to exist with man and man caused its extinction. It’s nice to be able to show children today about environmental issues that have been going on for hundreds of years.”
The Great Elephant Bird, aepyornis maximus, was the largest flightless bird to have ever existed on Earth. Standing at over 10 feet tall and weighing half a ton, it resembled a heavily built ostrich.
Although physically intimidating, they were hunted into extinction in the mid-1600s. Eggshells have been found in the remains of human fires in a recent excavation. It is presumed not only humans but other animals feasted on their eggs when possible, which could have caused their demise. The bird would not have been a threat to humans, as it was an herbivore.
The egg on sale has a circumference of over three feet, but is hollow, as it was found broken and then pieced back together. About 35 specalist antiques dealers will be attending the sale.