Replica Elephant Bird Egg At Buffalo Museum Turns Out To Be The Real Deal

By on

CCSS NAS-3 NAS-7 Word Search
Photo Credit: The Buffalo Museum of Science

One would think that an elephant bird egg, the largest laid by any vertebrate ever — including dinosaurs and ancient reptiles — would be hard to miss for 80 years. Yet, that is precisely what Paige Langle at New York’s Buffalo Museum of Science discovered recently while inputting the institution’s extensive collections, many of which only exist on cards and ledgers, into the museum’s computer system.

The collections manager of zoology stumbled upon the rare specimen, only 40 of which are believed to exist, inside a cabinet which had not been opened for some years. Measuring 12 inches long with a circumference of 24 inches, the pristine cream-colored egg, which weighed over three pounds, lay encased inside a box marked “model.”

Photo Credit: The Buffalo Museum of Science

Suspecting it was the real thing, Langle decided to investigate further. “I tried to shrug it off, but the more closely I looked at the surface of the eggshell and felt the weight of the egg, the more I kept thinking this has to be real,” she says. Upon digging further, Langle discovered museum records of an elephant egg acquisition from Edward Gerrard & Sons, a British taxidermy collector, for $92 in 1939.

To confirm if the records were referring to the egg she had found, Langle dispatched the precious specimen to conservation experts at Buffalo State for testing. Sure enough, radiography images found that not only was the egg authentic, but it had also been fertilized and contained fragments of the developing chick. Not surprisingly, the museum is thrilled at this rare, unexpected find, which is currently being showcased as part of their new exhibit Rethink Extinct, that opened to the public on May 1, 2018.

Photo Credit: Monnier [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Though not as big as an adult pachyderm, the Elephant bird that once roamed the island of Madagascar was a giant among birds. Measuring 10 feet tall and weighing between 770 to 1,100 pounds, the majestic flightless animal was an herbivore that sustained itself on the island’s abundant low hanging fruit. However, their idyllic life changed around 500 B.C when humans arrived. In addition to partaking in the birds’ food supply, the settlers also poached their eggs, one of which was big enough to feed an entire family. Researchers believe these factors, along with a loss of habitat, led to the extinction of these majestic birds some time in the 17th century. It is no wonder the few elephant bird eggs still in existence, fetch as much as $100,000 from collectors and museums.

Resources: sciencebuff.org, smithsonianmag.org,buffalorising.com


Generate citations in MLA, APA & Chicago formats for this article.

VocabularyPlay Game

acquisitionauthenticcircumferenceconservationdispatchedencasedextensiveextinctionhabitatherbivoreidyllicinputtingmajesticpachydermpartakingpoachedpreciselypristineradiographyshowcasedshrugspecimenstumbledsustainedvertebrate
Name:
Date:

Reading Comprehension (11 questions)

  1. According to the author, why would an elephant bird egg be hard to miss?
  2. How did Paige Langle recently discover an egg?
Name:
Date:

Critical Thinking Challenge

Do you think Elephant birds would have still been around if their eggs...

Name:
Date:

Vocabulary in Context

“Though not as big as an adult pachyderm, the Elephant bird that once roamed the island of Madagascar, was a giant among birds.”

In the above sentence, the word pachyderm most...

252 Comments
Sign in to use your custom avatar.
  • BRESunday, May 20, 2018 at 11:36 am
    ;)
    • kingft111
      kingft111Sunday, May 20, 2018 at 11:35 am
      coooooool
      • BOIIIISunday, May 20, 2018 at 11:26 am
        its weird because if they had one left it would hatch and they would be brought back from extinction.
        • bjamaca1234Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 11:56 am
          big eggs sound's good and deli sh to me
          • rgb1lrghirlgb3rSaturday, May 19, 2018 at 11:11 am
            they need to come back
            • psk1234
              psk1234Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 10:13 am
              that's really cool!
              • sam2007
                sam2007Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 9:04 am
                That’s really cool!
                • SmartGirl101Friday, May 18, 2018 at 2:03 pm
                  this article was rad!
                  • zooeyFriday, May 18, 2018 at 1:10 pm
                    cool
                    • ainsleyFriday, May 18, 2018 at 12:22 pm
                      Thats crazy I cant belive thers still one left !!!!!!!!!

                      Recent Comments

                      emma g wrote:

                      this was the most inspired I've ...
                      Saving The Earth, One Straw At A...

                      Anonymous wrote:

                      I hear yanny
                      "Yanny" Or "Laurel?" The Viral A...

                      jeff wrote:

                      laurel all the way
                      "Yanny" Or "Laurel?" The Viral A...

                      Our Apps and Plugins

                      ALA