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Humongous extinct bird egg up for auction. Where did it come from?

The fine arts auction house Christie's is auctioning off a huge, partly fossilized egg laid by an elephant bird, an extinct creature native to Madagascar. The starting price: $45,000.

Image

Christie's scientific specialist James Hyslop poses for photographs with a sub-fossilized pre-17th century Elephant Bird egg at the auction house's premises in London. The extinct Elephant Bird species was native to Madagascar and among the heaviest known birds.

Matt Dunham/AP

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Larger than a rugby ball and several hundred years old, a giant, partly fossilized egg laid by an extinct bird is set to be auctioned by Christie's. The auction house expects the egg to fetch up to $45,000.

James Hyslop, the Christie's scientific specialist shown in the Magritte-esque photo above, told the BBC that the type of egg is "the largest egg ever laid by any animal."

The egg is "bigger than dinosaur eggs," said Hyslop.

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Of course, phylogenetically speaking, birds are dinosaurs, a fact that is easier to believe when you consider the creature that dropped this particular ovum, the elephant bird.

The elephant bird, if you haven't guessed by its name and the size of the egg, was big. Bigger, in fact, than the biggest living bird, the African ostrich. Like the African ostrich, the elephant bird was flightless and from Africa – Madagascar to be exact. But unlike the African ostrich, it stood over 10 feet tall and weighed up to 800 lbs. In short, it's not the sort of creature you'd like to meet in a dark alley, unless you happen to be a paleoornithologist with a tranquilizer rifle.

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