Monday, September 14, 2009



Wow! That's one big egg!
Is it real?


Yes it is...
Oh hey, here's another one.


These are eggs laid by Vorompatra (a.k.a. Aepyornis; Elephant Bird; Vouroupatra/Vouron Patra) - The largest bird known to science.


The Vorompatra (Aepyornis maximus) roamed the woodlands, marshes, and sand dunes of Madagascar until its relatively recent extinction. The bird laid the largest eggs known to have ever existed; these eggs may have inspired tales of the mythical elephant-lifting bird, the Roc (or Rukh) of the Arabian Nights. Man arrived on Madagascar about two millennia ago; hunting, egg predation, and gradual loss of habitat to agriculture all probably contributed to the demise of this ten foot tall, half-ton avian wonder.


Did Vorompatra really look like this picture? No one knows for sure.


Maybe he looked more like this.


Or this.


Vorompatra was a ratite, a bird which could not fly because its breast bone had no keel (the term derives from ratis, Latin for "raft"). This "keel" serves to anchor the strong musculature other birds need for powered flight. Flightless birds evolved early in the Cenozoic Era, when the departure of their dinosaur ancestors cleared the stage for the evolution of new megafauna--mammals and birds were free to move into the niches so long occupied by the "Terrible Lizards". Other ratites are still found throughout the southern hemisphere; this circumstance gave rise to the "traditional" theory that these birds originated on the former continent of Gondwana, but the lack of key supporting evidence for this idea calls it into question.


Here is an egg comparison created by the Wyoming Dinosaur Center
Eggs of various modern reptiles and birds:
Clockwise from the upper-left:

  • an ostrich egg
  • crocodile eggs
  • one set of tortoise eggs
  • another set of tortoise eggs
  • and an Aepyornis Maximus egg
    (the extinct Elephant Bird of Madagascar).

All based on the same scale.
The ostrich egg is 145mm long.


Cool, huh?

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