April 24, 2013

The $101,813 egg.

Partly fossilized, laid by an elephant bird, auctioned recently.

"Madagascar's giant, flightless elephant birds were once a common sight on the island, certainly up until the 17th century. It is generally believed that the elephant bird's extinction resulted from human activity, perhaps not surprising when one of their giant eggs would have fed an entire family."

32 comments:

Lem said...

The last of the republicans.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

'My goodness! My gracious!’ they shouted. ‘MY WORD!

It’s something brand new!

IT’S AN ELEPHANT BIRD!!

Methadras said...

A bird that finds itself on an island of the coast of south east Africa over the millions of years of it's evolution, is extinct due to human activity? From the 18th century? OH NOES!!!

n.n said...

It's an elephant. It's a bird. It's "generally believed". It is likely an article of faith "proving" anthropogenic effects.

Well, sometimes. While other times the definition of life itself is called into question.

It's amazing how easily perception can be manipulated through inference and extrapolation from circumstantial evidence when it serves the interests of a select minority.

Why do "naturalists" err on the side of human deprivation?

Paco Wové said...

What exactly are you bitching about here, n.n?

traditionalguy said...

That one would be a sure winner in the Westminster Dog show as the newest breed that only the rich kids can afford.

But the world is deprived of experiencing that burst of joy.

I suppose Labrador Retrievers who probably are what killed it off will be winners by default.

Eustace Chilke said...

The oldest recoverable dna was recently proved to be no more than a couple of million years old. So no Jurassic Park. Mammoths and elephant birds and thylacines; maybe not far off.

edutcher said...

Well, the bird, bird, b-bird's the word.

rhhardin said...

The familys' dogs probably had shiny coats.

St. George said...

Cover story in this month's National Geographic is about strenuous research into reanimating extinct species, such as passenger pigeons and wooly mammoths. I

t's believed there's actually a decent chance of finding living mammoth cells in the permafrost. Even if that doesn't happen, we could soon see mammoth mammoths, ma'am.

Bob Ellison said...

An entire family of what?

Pogo said...

Don't let the Nome King see that thing.

ampersand said...

Pass me a slab of that mastodon bacon to go with my egg.

Bob Ellison said...

Reminds me of the court case where a guy lost in the California wilderness was convicted of killing and eating a California condor. Judge said he'd grant probation if the guy would just say what it tasted like. "Well, judge, it was about half-way between bald eagle and spotted owl."

Darrell said...

I hope the buyer used the Althouse portal on Amazon to purchase that egg. I'm expecting Cheese Danish for everyone.

exiledonmainst said...

When I first saw the headline, I thought it might be the Amazon purchase of the day.

exiledonmainst said...

Ah, beat me to it Darrell.

exiledonmainst said...

You'd need a really big ass omelet pan for those eggs.

Darrell said...

You can get a big-ass omelet pan at Amazon using The Althouse portal.

Lem said...

...big-ass omelet pan at Amazon.

lol.. loved that.

Chip Ahoy said...

As a time traveler I am often asked what happened to these birds that people would liked to have had around at least to see and behold in wonder and I tell them it is not a pretty sight. These rookeries are awful places and smell of poo no matter the species, but giant birds are especially awful. Early film on file at the time travelers archives resolves the questions surrounding the nomenclature of these birds and the happenstances regarding their fate, and this should settle any lingering curiosity about birds that honestly you do not want to have around. They were usually seen in pairs and their legs were quite thick.

Lem said...

That was very funny Chip.

furious_a said...

Fat, dumb and flightless is no way to go through life, son.

n.n said...

Paco Wové:

The conflation of philosophy and science for personal gain. Perhaps you are not familiar with the all too frequent exploitation of that nuanced differential. It is used by politicians, experts, and activists to attain a favorable position.

There are several other threads at present where people are arguing over the very definition of life. They tend to forget that science is necessarily defined within frames of reference and is not intended to simply offer an expedient explanation of an observed phenomenon.

In this context I am emphasizing "generally believed" as an example where discernment between cause and effect may be lost due to rhetorical devices arising from journalistic bias.

FleetUSA said...

It is all Bush's fault. He lied they died.

AllenS said...

That's too bad about the big-assed elephant bird. Here's how Spain gets rid of its stupid people.

Rusty said...

They were usually seen in pairs and their legs were quite thick.

Dibs on the drumstick!
For everybody on my block!

modgudur said...

Talk about an old egg! What about an elderly egg? I have great examples where a local judge is abusing his power of position to marginalize an elderly man in a nursing home. A court appointed female lawyer telling this court the lies the court wants to hear to keep this 93 year old in sub-standard care albeit still within the "letter of the law" This is a "cover-up" in the Grand good ole boy system of lawyers and judges, starting at the top with the Governor of Minnesota.

Nichevo said...

AllenS, how is that even possible? Is it a rigged demo? A stunt bull? Are the horns fake? Are they wearing armor? Those people ought to be spewing blood and guts!

Although actually it seems like the bull is playing with them, like it knows how to hit them in the least disemboweling fashion. I'm pretty confident that if Juan Bull wanted them dead, they would be cold meat. Notice also the rope, I guess in case he gets carried away.

William said...

My theory of evolution is that nothing that tastes good ever becomes extinct. Sure, it's a bird, but that doesn't mean it tastes like chicken. Probably had a greasy taste like goose or swan, and, as Chip points out, produced a phenomenal amount of elephant bird shit.

Broomhandle said...

Chip is the Terry Gilliam of Althouse.

Michael McNeil said...

It's fascinating that many of the surviving fragments of the old fractured supercontinent of Gondwanaland (South America, Africa, Madagascar, India, Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, etc.) hosted or once did large flightless birds of the order Struthioniformes: as noted by Althouse, Madagascar had the elephant bird, but also New Zealand had the moa, Australia still has the emu (and formerly larger extinct relations), South America has the rhea, while Africa has the ostrich. Moreover, these birds are all Ratites, which means they've even lost the keel bone to which wing flight muscles might attach: making them obligate flightless, and for a long long time.

Since they could not fly between the various shattered fragments of Gondwanaland after it broke up, it's at least plausible (though not proven as yet) that a single common Ratite ancestor living on prefractured intact old Gondwanaland was the ancestor of all these variants, who simply stayed where they were while the supercontinent broke up around them and the pieces drifted away.