Last week at Hôtel Drouot's Natural History auction, the biggest sale of the first day was a meteorite. However, running a close second was a rock like object created closer to earth.
Madagascan elephant birds grew up to a terrifying three metres tall, and are preserved in folklore and myths, with varying degrees of plausibility. The mythical Roc may be based on the creatures.
Sometimes more tangible evidence has been preserved, however. Elephant bird eggs, which are on average 160 times larger than chicken eggs, are sometimes uncovered. The eggs are not true fossils as it is only a few hundred years since the birds became extinct and they are only slightly altered.
Naturally they are of great interest to collectors of fossils, however. They may not reach the huge prices of T. Rex or even mammoth skeletons, but three elephant bird eggs produced some of the most excited bidding of the day.
A cracked (but complete) elephant bird's egg sold for €6,250, easily beating its modest €2,000-2,500 listing, but it was the two intact eggs which most eyes were focussed on, and both hit the top end of their estimates exactly: the 31.5cm tall example fetching €25,000 and the 28cm tall piece going under the hammer for €20,000.
Placed immediately after these was the remains of a less scary bird which also shared the world with mankind before its extinction. Beating its €2,000-3,000 listing to sell for 4000 was the skeleton of a dodo.
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Images: Hôtel Drouot