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An Intact Elephant Bird Egg
17th Century or Earlier
An Unhatched Specimen
This unhatched specimen is in remarkable state having one tiny opening which has been hand-corrected.
height 29.2 cm (11.5 in)
French private collection acquired in the 1950's
The Egg of the Elephant Bird is the largest egg ever known, larger even than any known dinasaur and was reportedly named by Marco Polo who said that the bird was so big that it could carry off an elephant. It is known that the bird, which weighed half a ton and stood over 10 feet tall, lived in the Spiny Forest in the South of the Island of Madagascar where it fed on the leaves of the Spiny trees. It is accepted that it co-existed with humans for many centuries, only becoming extinct as its habitat shrank. The shells were certainly highly prized by the people of Madagascar, intact ones being used as containers and also as prestige items.
Examples exist in the following public collections:
The Natural History Museum, London
Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris
The American Museum of Natural History, New York
E. Fuller Extinct Birds Oxford University Press, 2000
Lucien M.A Rakotozafy and Steven M Goodman Contribution a lâ€™etude zooarcheologique de la region du Sud-Ouest et exteme Sud de Madagascar sur la base des collections de Iâ€™ICMAA de lâ€™universite dâ€™Antananarivo
Milne Edwards and A Masson Recherche sur la faune ornithologique eteinte des iles Mascareignes et de Madagascar, 1866
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