Officials with the Buffalo Museum of Science were stunned when they recently discovered that what they believed to be a replica of an elephant bird egg among the museum collection was actually “the real deal”. For decades, the rare elephant bird egg was believed to be fake.
Scientists say the elephant bird went extinct between 800 and a thousand years ago. It was native to the island of Madagascar. In years past, the Buffalo Museum made strenuous efforts to obtain a real, fossilized elephant bird egg only to be thwarted by dozens of dealers.
How the True Nature of the Elephant Bird Egg Was Discovered
The museum’s collection manager for zoology, Paige Langle, was conducting routine inventory work one day when she came upon the elephant egg. She found documentation which stated that the egg was believed to be fake.
But Langle immediately had doubts. To her, the gigantic egg just looked real. It felt real, too. So she decided to bring the item to experts. They determined that the specimen was a genuine fossilized egg after a series of rigorous tests using a process called radiography.
Even more exciting, further examination revealed that the egg has a sub-fossilized baby elephant bird inside. The gigantic ovum measures 28 inches at its circumference and is more than a foot tall.
After the egg was proven real, Langle did some further digging through historical records of the museum. She discovered that Buffalo Museum had obtained the egg way back in 1939 from a taxidermist. How it eventually came to be labeled a fake is lost among decades of dusty bureaucratic records.
Plans are now moving forward to put the massive egg back on public display. The object is one of about only 40 known genuine fossils of an elephant bird egg in the world proven to be real. Langle said it would be an exciting object to view for museum patrons.
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