JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug. 27 (UPI) — A South African museum says it has the world’s last surviving dodo egg and is preparing to allow DNA testing of the precious exhibit to confirm it.
The flightless dodo became extinct in the mid-17th century after being extensively hunted in its native home of Mauritius by visiting sailors and the dogs and cats they brought on voyages with them, which plundered the birds’ nests, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
The egg was given to South Africa’s East London Museum in 1915 by the great aunt of the museums curator at the time, the British newspaper said. It was given to the aunt by a sea captain who made many trips to Mauritius where he said he found it in a swamp.
Now, the museum’s current curator has decided to test the provenance of its most-prized artifact.
Mcebisi Magadla said the test would involve breaking off a piece of egg the size of a pen point from the outside of the egg.
He said it could be tested at the University of Cape Town or further afield in Oxford, England, where Oxford University’s Natural History Museum houses the foot and head of a dodo.
“We have a duty to test the egg to prove its authenticity one way or another and the best way to do that is by DNA testing,” he said. “As a museum we cannot say something is authentic unless we can check.”
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