The enormous partially fossilized egg of an elephant bird just sold for the very large sum of $101,813 dollars at Christie’s auction house. It’s kind of funny when you consider that the elephant bird went extinct almost entirely as a result of deforestation/human activities, and that very little money is now spent to stop those activities, but apparently lots of money is spent on the remains of the animals now extinct as a result of those activities.
The egg is about a foot-long, nine-inches in diameter, and was previously estimated to be worth about half of what it was sold for. Kind of makes you curious why the anonymous buyer wanted it.
Elephant birds were a family of very large to gigantic, flightless birds that were endemic to the island of Madagascar until very recently. They have been extinct since the 17th century, but possibly went extinct before then. One of the species, Aepyornis, was by far the largest bird in the world until its extinction, standing about 10 feet tall, and weighing around 880 lbs. Not quite as tall as the Moa, which also went extinct in recent times in New Zealand, but a good bit heavier.
They, like an enormous variety of other animals, went extinct relatively shortly after the modern human colonization of Madagascar 2000 years ago. Though they survived somewhat longer than many of the others, the causes are the same: deforestation, habitat loss, and overhunting/egg harvesting.
Some of the other recent extinctions in Madagascar include the gorilla sized lemur Archaeoindris, an enormous number of other lemur species, the giant fossa, and the malagasy hippopotamus. Many of the remaining lemur species are facing likely-extinction within the near future, along with the crocodiles in Madagascar, and a great variety of other animals. Since human modern human colonization 2000 years ago Madagascar has lost 90% of its original forests, as a result much of the country is facing severe soil erosion, desertification, and increasing water scarcity.
It’s interesting to consider that such an animal was alive until recently, and that the remaining artifacts of its existence sell for so much. Makes you wonder how much a tiger skin or elephant tusk is going to be going for in a few hundred years…