What bird laid the largest eggs ever known? To date, the record holder is the now-extinct Elephant Bird, a relative of the present-day Ostrich and other large, flightless birds, including rheas, cassowaries, and kiwis. Elephant Birds lived on the island of Madagascar. But by perhaps 1000-1200 BC, they were extinct. Some of their eggshells survived, though, and they dwarf an Ostrich egg, measuring 13 inches long and tipping the scales at around 22 pounds. Strangely, DNA has proven that the Elephant Bird's closest living relative is the diminutive kiwi.
Elephant Birds Laid Really Big Eggs
Written by Bob Sundstrom
This is BirdNote.
If you’ve ever seen an Ostrich egg in a museum or a souvenir shop you’ll know — they’re big. Nearly six inches long. And they’re heavy. Live Ostrich eggs weigh about three pounds, the same as about two dozen large chicken eggs.
[Museum sound: Blockbuster 2010 Music: Flight of the Cosmic Hippo Bela Fleck 1991 Warner Bros]
But what bird laid the largest eggs ever known? To date, the record holder is the now-extinct Elephant Bird. They were enormous — flightless birds that stood nearly 10 feet tall and weighed in at around half a ton. Up to the late 1600s, Elephant Birds lived on the island of Madagascar. But by the 1700s, they were extinct. (Editor's note: while individuals wrote about the birds and their amazing size as late as the 1650s, it's possible that they were passing along tall tales about the animal in folk lore.)
Some of their eggshells survived, though, and they dwarf an Ostrich egg, measuring 13 inches long and tipping the scales at around 22 pounds. That’s about 15 dozen chicken eggs.
Elephant Birds belonged to a bird group called the Ratites (RAT-tites). They were relatives of other large, flightless birds, including the present-day Ostrich, Emu, cassowaries, and rheas and the much smaller kiwis — a dozen living species in all. But when Elephant Bird DNA was analyzed, it turned out that the huge bird’s closest living relatives are those diminutive kiwis, the largest of which stands a modest 18 inches tall.
For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
Xeno Canto 152944 recorded by Fernand Deroussen.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Sallie Bodie
© 2017 Tune In to Nature.org February 2017/2021 Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# elephantbird-01-2017-02-10 elephantbird-01
Early David Attenborough film from Madagascar (including Elephant Bird eggshell)
re ostrich eggs - http://www.buzzle.com/articles/ostrich-eggs-facts-about-ostrich-eggs.ht…