The Buffalo Museum of Science has uncovered an authentic, intact elephant bird (Aepyornis maximus) egg in its collection. According to the museum, the egg, weighing 3 pounds 5 ounces, was previously mislabeled as a model… a fake! Only when the Museum’s oological collection was being updated – inventoried and cataloged – did members of the museum make the discovery. Once the discovery was made, the egg, measuring 12 inches long and 28 inches in circumference, was sent over to SUNY Buffalo State, where it was radiographed by conservators at the Patricia H. and Richard E. Garman Art Conservation Department (lead image). The tests proved that the museum was indeed in possession of a spectacular find.
Apparently there are fewer than 40 intact eggs held in public institutions, and most museums display fake models because they are so hard to obtain, as the giant flightless bird was endemic to the island of Madagascar (between 1000 and 1700 AD), where it averaged 10-feet in height and weighed between 770 and 1,100 pounds. And the few eggs that have been found (as of late) are sole property of the Malagasy government . The egg at The Buffalo Museum of Science was purchased from Edward Gerrard & Sons of London in 1939. In 2013 an egg was privately sold for $100K.
Elephant Bird eggs are known as the largest eggs ever laid by any vertebrate, including dinosaurs, with some eggs measuring up to 13 inches in length.
“Lost, hidden or misidentified artifacts and specimens are not uncommon in museums that have been collecting for centuries, and we are thrilled to rediscover this rare egg in our collection,” said Director of Collections, Kathryn Leacock. “The Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences has been collecting since 1861, and as we continue to care for the collection, there is always more to learn and discover.”
Is the elephant bird a candidate for de-extinction? Check out the video below to find out…
The Buffalo Museum of Science will unveil the Elephant Bird egg to the public On May 1, 2018 (9 a.m.) as part of the Rethink Extinct science studio. For additional information about the Buffalo Museum of Science, including Museum hours, visit sciencebuff.org.