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Dodo bone and giant egg for sale

The bone is likely to have been excavated during a dig by George Clark in Mauritius in 1865 Photo: Christie's

The auction house Christie's is selling a rare fragment of bone from the extinct dodo. Estimated to be worth £10,000-£15,000, it's believed to be the first dodo bone to come to auction since 1934.

The dodo was first recorded by Dutch sailors in 1598 on the island of Mauritius, and became extinct in the late 17th century, less than 100 years later.

The dodo bone is one of the few pieces of the extinct bird in private hands Credit: Christie's

“As an icon of extinction, the dodo is second to none. From its appearance in Alice in Wonderland to the expression ‘dead as a dodo’, the bird has cemented its place in our cultural heritage. This exciting discovery is one of the few pieces of dodo material in private hands, and it is a privilege, and humbling experience, to have been entrusted with the bone. It is a reminder of the effect humans have on the natural world, and presents a rare opportunity to engage with this now lost and most enigmatic bird.”

– James Hyslop, Head of Travel, Science and Natural History, Christie's
The Elephant Bird egg is estimated to be worth between £20,000 and £30,000 Credit: Christie's
The Elephant Bird egg compared with a hen's egg Credit: Christie's

Also in the sale, a fossilised egg from the Elephant Bird, measuring more than 100 times the average size of a chicken egg. The extinct Elephant Bird was a native of Madagascar, and was the largest bird ever to have lived, growing to between 10 and 11 feet in height.

It's thought to have been hunted to extinction in Madagascar between the 14th and 17th centuries.

James Hyslop, Head of Travel, Science and Natural History at Christie's explains why he's so excited to be selling the giant egg.

Christie's is also selling a German three-rotor Enigma cipher machine, from around 1939, as part of the sale next month. The code machine, estimated to be worth £40,000-£60,000 was widely used during World War II to encrypt and decode messages sent between the military and its commanders.

Its interchangeable rotors made a total of 15 billion billion possible readings for each character. This was considered too complex to be broken, but due to the efforts of Alan Turing and a team of analysts at Bletchley Park, the mechanism was cracked, enabling the allies to read all secure messages