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Elephant Bird Egg Replica In Museum Turns Out To Be The Real Thing

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A model elephant bird egg in the Buffalo Museum of Science turned out to be the real thing. The elephant bird, which went extinct at around 1200 AD, laid the largest eggs of any vertebrate.  ( Justin Tallis | AFP/Getty Images )

Curators at the Buffalo Museum of Science are shocked to discover that a replica of the rare elephant bird egg in their collection was actually the real thing.

The extinct Madagascar elephant bird, which is related to the New Zealand kiwi and resembles the modern emu and ostrich, grew as tall as 10 feet and weighed between 770 pounds and 1,100 pounds. The flightless bird laid the largest eggs of any vertebrate, even when including the dinosaurs, and went extinct at around 1200 AD.

Fake Elephant Bird Egg Turned Out To Be Real

The scientific community is buzzing with a discovery made at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Paige Langle, Collections manager of zoology, was updating the museum's catalog when she stumbled upon an egg that has been hidden away.

The egg, which was labeled as a model, was stored in a cabinet. However, Langle sensed something amiss, starting with the fact that it was bigger than all other eggs in the museum's collection.

"It had so much detailing and pitting, and the color was beautiful. It looked too realistic to be a model," Langle said.

She later came across a cast of an elephant egg, but that one looked fake compared to the first egg. By then, she believed that the first egg was the real thing.

The egg was then sent to the art conservation department of SUNY Buffalo State where radiography was used to analyze it. There, the egg was confirmed to be not a model, but a real elephant bird egg.

What Makes The Elephant Bird Egg So Special?

The egg has a length of 12 inches, a circumference of 28 inches, and weight of about 3 pounds 5 ounces, which is equivalent to 150 chicken eggs.

The elephant bird egg is special not just because of its size, though. There are less than 40 intact elephant bird eggs in the world, and one just so happened to be masquerading as fake in the Buffalo Museum of Science.

After finding out that the elephant bird egg was the real thing, Kathryn Leacock, director of Collections, looked into how it was acquired by the museum. Records show that the egg was purchased from a taxidermy shop in London in 1939 for $92, which was already a significant amount at the time.

For those who would like to see the elephant bird egg in person, the Buffalo Museum of Science will unveil it to the public on May 1.

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