Imagine, if you can, a gigantic, ostrichlike bird that stood nearly 10 feet high, weighed 1,000 pounds and laid eggs more than a foot long, each of which held two gallons! Such a giant bird lived until about two centuries ago on the island of Madagascar, near the eastern coast of Africa.
Today, these big, flightless birds are known only from their eggs and bony remains, which dwarf the bones of all living birds. (A big ostrich, the largest bird now alive, stands about 8 feet tall and weighs 300 pounds.)
Elephant birds’ eggs are still occasionally washed out of the soil where they were laid long ago.
To wondering natives looking at the largest eggs ever laid, the elephant bird must have truly been a monster of heroic proportions.
It was doubtless these birds that gave rise to legends about the roc, a mythical bird of enormous size, known from the stories in the “Arabian Nights.” – Dick Rogers