London: A rare fragment of femur bone from the extinct dodo is set to fetch between 10,000 to 15,000 pounds at an auction here.
The dodo, a flightless bird that was endemic to the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, was driven to extinction in the late 17th century, less than a hundred years after its discovery.
The femur bone is believed to have been excavated in 1865 at Mare aux Songes, in the South-East of Mauritius during a famous dig by George Clark (1807-1873), a natural history enthusiast.
This is believed to be the first dodo bone to come to auction since 1934.
The bone will go under the hammer on April 24 at auction house Christie`s in South Kensington, London.
"As an icon of extinction, the dodo is second to none. From its appearance in Alice in Wonderland to the expression `dead as dodo`, the bird has cemented its place in our cultural heritage," said James Hyslop, Head of Travel, Science and Natural History, Christie`s South Kensington.
"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," he said in a statement.
Another marvel of the natural world which is up for grabs is a very rare and complete sub-fossilised pre-17th century Elephant Bird egg (Aepyornis maximus).
It is expected to fetch between 20,000 to 30,000 pounds. The egg, which measures over 100 times the average size of a chicken egg, stands at 21cm in diameter and 30cm in height.
The extinct Elephant Bird, a native of Madagascar, was the largest bird ever to have lived. Resembling a heavily-built ostrich with long legs and talons, it grew to around 11 to 10 feet in height and is thought to have been hunted to extinction in Madagascar between the 14th and 17th centuries.
Fragments of eggs can be found in the Southern part of the island, but whole examples such as the present lot are extremely rare, the auction house said.