Saturday, 30 March 2013

Dead as an egg


In the news today, the femur bone of a dodo and the giant partially fossilised egg of an elephant bird are being put up for auction at Christie's.  The bone of the extinct Dodo is expected to fetch up to £15,000 & the egg, which is around 100 times larger than a chicken’s egg, anticipated to attract around £30,000.

Now I can see the appeal in a massive egg, very topical too at Easter time, but just a bone that is around a few inches in length? I’m not convinced.  Where’s the rest of the poor Dodo anyway?  You can imagine showing off at a dinner party with your Elephant egg which is 21 cm in diameter, the size of an adults head, impressing your guests with the specifics that it comes from an extinct 11 foot tall bird from Madagascar.  Then you whip out a decaying old piece of bone. 

Somewhere out there on this weird & wonderful world are people just hoping to have a Dodo bone in their collection, a collection that you have to wonder at its contents if they get off on old bones.  I’d be more inclined to be impressed it was a complete skeleton; I dread to think what a whole one would cost.

The bone from the ill-fated Dodo is believed to have been excavated in 1865 & is a rare example from the famous flightless bird from the island of Mauritius.  Looking at the drawings that there are of the bird, it does look as if it had a fair amount of meat on it & seemed as if it would have made a tasty treat for most predators.  The dodo, being earthbound, rather weighty & unable to climb, had its fate sealed really even without man having taken a liking to its pretty feathers.

It’s amazing to see what cash people are willing to part with for a slice of history, when conceivably a fraction of that money would help save most of the Worlds endangered species.  The Dodo has been tarnished with a hapless, almost dumb personality over the years.  But I’m reasonably influenced that it wouldn’t have killed animals for fun & keep the bones as trophies, slaughter great beasts for their ivory, fur or oils.

Just who are the most intelligent species on our fragile planet anyway? 


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