the Enormous Eggs

"...after a while my eager glances fell upon some great white thing, afar off in the interior of the island...and behold, it was a huge white dome rising high in air and of vast compass. I walked all around it, but found no door thereto, nor could I muster strength or nimbleness by reason of its exceeding smoothness and slipperiness. So I marked the spot where I stood and went round about the dome to measure its circumference which I found fifty good paces...I was certified that the dome which caught my sight was none other than a Rukh's egg."

from Nights #543 & 544: "the Second Voyage of Sindbad the Seaman"
Sir Richard Burton's translation of
the Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night

Separated at Birth?So, just how big WAS this egg? Sindbad aside, the picture here pretty much tells the story--that's a Vorompatra egg next to that of your run-of-the-mill chicken. The largest egg currently in production is that of the Ostrich: check out this picture that the Wyoming Dinosaur Center put together to provide another visual comparison.

Accounts and measurements vary somewhat, just as the eggs themselves exhibit some variation in size. Generally, a Vorompatra egg could be nearly 13 inches (34cm) long by 9 inches (24cm) wide: the largest known specimen measures 3ft (91cm) in its largest circumference. Their volume reached 19 US pints (9 liters): that is, up to eight times the volume of an ostrich egg, equivalent to between 150-200 hen's eggs & more than 12,000 hummingbird eggs (additionally, they dwarf the largest dinosaur eggs found to date). When fresh, they weighed about 20 lb (9kg).

Feel the need to own an Aepyornis egg? It appears you'll have to come up with at least $5,000 for it, from the Bone Room. There's a cob-web site at the Stone Company, but since it no longer has pictures, I'm guessing the relative bargain price of only $2,500 is no longer valid.

reassembled eggDoubtless those vendors are reputable. You should be aware, though, that there are likely strict regulations that govern the trafficking of these relics. Many of those for sale were assembled of pieces found lying around, and will usually comprise fragments of who knows HOW many separate eggs (notice the reticulation on the eggs pictured here & at the top of this page--more reconstructed "puzzle" eggs).

Whole intact Vorompatra eggs are still found from time to time in Madagascar. Most of them reside in museums on public display, but there are a few in private hands. Paul Herry has one he would like to sell, which his grandfather acquired during his tenure in the French colonial government of Madagascar.

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