Elephant bird egg gets national attention for Buffalo museum

Elephant bird egg gets national attention for Buffalo museum

Elephant bird egg gets national attention for Buffalo museum

There are less than 40 intact eggs in public institutions.

After decades of being out of view - possibly since the 1940s or '50s - the egg will be displayed in the museum's Rethink Extinct gallery starting May 1. That fake egg was obviously the one meant to be cataloged as a replica, but somehow a real example of the huge egg ended up in its place.

A recent discovery at The Buffalo Museum of Science has the scientific community buzzing.

Elephant birds are flightless and only found in Madagascar.

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Sifting through the massive collection of items at the museum is no easy task, but the egg caught the attention of Paige Langle, the museum's collections manager of zoology.

A rare and exciting discovery at the Buffalo Museum of Science: the egg of an extinct elephant bird found in a locked cabinet inside a storage room in the museum. When the museum opened back in 1929, the trend was to fill it with collections.

The Buffalo Museum of Science had to embrace technology, so the managers chose to update their catalog in a digital system. Its outer shell was full of detailed ridges, and its color was smooth and lovely. Then, they accidentally discovered this particular object looked a little bit too realistic, so they made a decision to investigate.

The museum called in experts from the Art Conservation Department at the State University of New York, Buffalo, to inspect the elephant bird egg and assess its authenticity.

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"It's a good thing the Scajaquada is only 30 miles per hour", Leacock said. Conservators radiographed the egg and confirmed their suspicions.

"Further investigation into the archival record revealed the egg was purchased from Edward Gerrard & Sons of London in 1939", according to the museum statement. Apparently, the staff then wanted an elephant bird egg in the collection and it was searched for all over.

"Specs of white" could indicate the beginnings of a developing bird, Leacock said. These imposing birds, which probably got their moniker due to their thick, elephant-like legs, stood 10 feet tall and weighed up to 1,100 pounds.

"The conservators and our team believe ... there's a possibility this may be a fertilized egg", Leacock said.

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The nearest elephant bird egg - found floating in the Indian Ocean off Madagascar - is at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh.

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