A huge fossilized egg, belonging to an extinct elephant bird, fetched $101,813 at auction in London.
The egg was sold during Christie’s “Travel, Science and Natural History” auction in London Wednesday. The auction included 264 items collected from the 17th to 19th century, and the lots included maps, atlases, meteorites, fossils, petrified wood, objects preserved in amber, compasses, telescopes and drawing utensils.
The elephant bird egg measures 8.75 inches in diameter and was found in Madagascar. Christie’s dates the egg to pre-17th century. Aepyornis maximus, known commonly as elephant birds, was found exclusively on the island of Madagascar up until 1,000 when the species became extent. Elephant birds were flightless, could weigh up to 1,000 pounds and grew as tall as 10 feet, BBC reports. It is believed humans caused elephant birds to become extinct; the large eggs could serve as a meal for an entire family, according to BBC.
“The elephant bird was thought to be the giant flying beast known as the Roc (or Ruhk) in the tales of Sinbad and accounts of Marco Polo's voyages," according to Christie’s lot notes. "The bird grew to around 10 or 11 feet in height and whilst probably unable to devour an elephant, as the Roc was reputed to do, it certainly was the largest bird ever to have lived.” According to Christie’s lot notes, elephant birds went extinct sometime between the 14th and 17th centuries.
The fossilized elephant bird egg was valued at 20,000 to 30,000 pounds ($30,500 to $45,750) before the auction on Wednesday. The Associated Press reports heavy bidding for more than 10 minutes before the egg was sold to an anonymous telephone bidder.
Also sold at Christie’s auction was a fossilized fragment of a Dodo’s femur bone, which sold for $12,391, slightly under the auction’s estimate.