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March 28, 2009

World's largest egg

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Long story short: Laid in the seventeenth century by the now-extinct Great Elephant Bird, which stood 10 feet tall and weighed one-half ton, the 13-inch-tall egg (above and below) is over three feet in circumference, larger than any other known egg — including those of dinosaurs.

Here's a March 26, 2009 Daily Mail story with the details.

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Fancy shelling out £5,000 for a 400-year-old stale egg?

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Its mother has long since departed the scene. As, indeed, has its entire species.

But this giant egg is a great survivor. It was laid around 400 years ago by one of the Great Elephant Birds of Madagascar.

Before becoming extinct in the 17th century, the flightless creature was the world's largest bird, standing 10ft tall and weighing half a ton.

The egg, which is more than 3ft in circumference, was discovered by Victorian explorers and has since been held in private collections.

Its current owner is antiques dealer John Shepherd, of Ashford in Kent, who bought the egg after seeing David Attenborough discover one while filming in Madagascar.

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Mr Shepherd, a trained palaeontologist, has decided to sell the egg, which is on display at the Chelsea Antiques Fair, which runs until Sunday.

It is expected to fetch at least £5,000. He said: 'The egg is a talking point. It's very eye-catching and it has a wonderful simplicity about it. It stands on its own.

'It 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.'

Great Elephant Birds became extinct after being hunted by the natives of Madagascar.

Even though the bird weighed about half a ton, it also suffered at the hands of other predators such as pigs who ate their chicks and destroyed their eggs.

The flightless bird, the largest to have ever lived, resembled a heavily-built ostrich. It had long legs, talons and stood at more than 10ft tall.

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But despite its fearsome appearance, it was a herbivore.

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The birds were wiped out by hunters in the mid-1600s.

Duncan Phillips, organiser of the Chelsea Antiques Fair, where the egg is on show, said: "This is the largest known egg in the world."

"Elephant Bird eggs are extremely rare and this is the biggest one we have ever seen."

"They are very highly prized by collectors and interior designers and there might not be another one on the market for 50 years."

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A March 25, 2009 BBC News article noted that "The egg would have contained the chick of a baby Great Elephant Bird but is now hollow after it was broken and pieced back together."

March 28, 2009 at 10:01 AM | Permalink


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Comments

AS LONG AS IT DOES'NT HATCH WHILE I'M STILL AROUND.

Posted by: MICHAEL J. SCHMITZ | Apr 29, 2009 1:53:23 AM

So as a child raised on Seasame Street, there REALLY was a Big Bird.
When I saw pictures of this bird I never really read beyond the short caption to learn they were really huge. I just thought large dodo bird like an emu, to bad killed off.

Posted by: guess | Mar 28, 2009 10:37:51 PM

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