March 28, 2013
Elephant Bird Egg, Dodo Femur Up For Auction
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
It isn´t something that anyone expects to find in an Easter Egg hunt this coming weekend, but a sub-fossilized egg from an extinct type of bird could reach a lofty price when it goes to auction. Christie´s Auction House in London is putting an egg of an extinct elephant bird up for auction.
The egg, which is 309cm in length and 21cm in diameter, would be hard to confuse with the average chicken egg, as it is roughly 100 times larger. The giant bird was native to the African island of Madagascar and apparently went extinct between the 13th and 17th centuries.
James Hyslop, head of Travel, Science and Natural History at Christie´s, told the British newspaper The Independent that, “It's very rare to find one that's complete. To see one in such perfect condition is a real treat.”
Fragments of similar eggs can be found in the southern part of Madagascar, but finding a completely perfect egg is very rare. The unusual egg is expected to fetch around £30,000 ($46,000) when it is featured in Christie´s “Travel, Science and Natural History” auction to be held in April.
The extinct elephant bird egg is not the only unusual avian item that will be made available to bidders.
The auction house will also for the first time offer a rare bone of the dodo. The fragment from the femur is estimated to sell for £10,000 to £15,000 pounds, and this is the first dodo bone to come up for auction since 1934.
The dodo was first recorded by Dutch sailors in 1598 on the remote island of Mauritius near Madagascar. The flightless bird, which is a relative of pigeons and doves, was much larger in size. Dodo birds stood three feet tall and weighed about 40 pounds. They are believed to have thrived, but went extinct less than 100 years after contact with humans. The birds had no native predators. The last reported sighting of the dodo was in 1662.
While the word “dodo” may have derived from the Portuguese “doido” and meant “fool” or “crazy,” some ascribe the name from the Dutch “dodoaars,” which may have referred to the bird´s knot of feathers.
“As an icon of extinction, the dodo is second to none,” Hyslop said in a statement. “From its appearance in Alice in Wonderland to the expression ℠dead as dodo´, the bird has cemented its place in our cultural heritage. This exciting discovery is one of the few pieces of dodo material in private hands, and it is a privilege, and humbling experience, to have been entrusted with the bone. It is a reminder of the effect humans have on the natural world, and presents a rare opportunity to engage with this now lost and most enigmatic bird.”
The auction will reportedly compress more than 260 lots, and feature a wide array of works that include curiosities of natural history, globes, paintings and other works of art from the ages of exploration including a lost work by William Hodges, which was recently discovered.
For those who can´t make the auction or hope to have better luck finding treasures that could go to auction, it is worth noting that a 1,000-year-old Chinese bowl sold at Sotheby´s Auction House in New York for more than $2.2 million dollars. That bowl was found at a garage sale, where it was bought for $3.