James Hyslop displays massive elephant bird egg

Photo: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Egg head auctioneer

James Hyslop, a scientific specialist at Christie's auction house, holds up a complete sub-fossilized elephant bird egg on March 27 in London in a photo that hints of Rene Magritte.

The elephant bird egg, which is about 100 times the size of an average chicken egg, is expected to fetch up to $45,000 when it is auctioned off in Christie's "Travel, Science and Natural History" sale on April 24.

Elephant birds were a species of flightless avians that hailed from the island of Madagascar and stood at about 10 feet in height. They were driven to extinction by human settlers in the 18th century as a result of hunting, new diseases, habitat destruction and a human appetite that had a penchant for their enormous eggs, which could easily feed an entire family.

In addition to the egg, Christie's is auctioning off a femur bone fragment belonging to another more well-known extinct flightless bird, the dodo. Excavated in 1865 on Mauritius, a tiny island off the east coast of Madagascar, this bone is expected to sell for up to $22,000.

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Massive egg of extinct flightless bird up for auction [Photo]
The egg is expected to fetch up to $45,000 when it is sold in Christie's "Travel, Science and Natural History" sale in April.