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    Rare elephant bird egg up for auction

    10:05 AM, Apr 24, 2013   |    comments
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    An employee of Christie's auction house poses with a complete sub-fossilised Elephant Bird egg in London on March 27, 2013 during a press preview of their April 'Travel, Science and Natural History' sale. This pre-17th century egg of the extinct Elephant Bird, the largest bird ever to have lived, is approximately 100 times larger than the average chicken's egg and is estimated to fetch 20,000 - 30,000 GBP when it goes on sale on April 24, 2013. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLIS

    UNDATED (CBS) -- Antique lovers had the opportunity of a lifetime Wednesday morning in London. A very large, very valuable egg went on sale. It didn't take long to find a buyer.

    At Wednesday morning's auction, rich collectors were up against museums and galleries worldwide this morning because elephant birds eggs are as rare as, well, hen's teeth.

    Madagascar, an island off the east coast of Africa, was home to the largest that ever lived. It laid such jumbo eggs, 120 chicken eggs could fit inside just one of them.

    But the bird was hunted to extinction between 300 and 400 years ago.

    In Raiders of the Lost Ark, Harrison Ford was the dashing guardian of rare antiquities, fighting villains out for personal gain. Conservationists say this sort of problem is not just a 'made-in-Hollywood' threat.

    CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer says, "There is a school of thought that says this is a dangerous thing to do because the greater the sums these things go for, the more pressure there is for them to be found and even looted from nature..." James Hyslop, travel, science & nature expert for Christie's Auction House says, "Madagascar is very good at controlling eggs going out of the country at the moment."

    That means no new specimens will be offered for sale, which makes this old one, in perfect shape and perfectly legal, a special prize.

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