Chinese museum displays ostrich egg fossils

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Three fossilized ostrich eggs are on display at a north China museum after being stored in an underground warehouse for 50 years.

The preserved fossils were found by farmers in Cixian County, Hebei Province in the 1960s. They immediately took the objects to the county's cultural center.

Experts confirmed they were fossilized ostrich eggs dating back more than 150,000 years, said Zhao Xuefeng, curator of Cizhou Kiln Museum.

Cixian County, which was previously called Cizhou, has a history of more than 1,000 years of porcelain production.

As there was no place to display them at that time, the ostrich egg fossils remained in the cultural center's warehouse until staff recently examined the stored objects.

The three ostrich egg fossils weigh 552, 492 and 366 grams respectively. The largest is 170 mm long and 140 mm wide.

The area where the ostrich egg fossils were discovered is east of the Taihang Mountains. More than 100,000 years ago, this area is believed to have been plains and wetlands with abundant wildlife including ostriches and deer, Zhao said.

The fossils enable the study of the historical distribution and evolution of ostriches as well as the geological and climate environment of the Pleistocene Epoch, the last Ice Age, which covered the period from 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago, according to Qi Jikang from Hebei Vocational College of Geology.

Ostrich egg fossils have been unearthed in several areas of north China, such as Inner Mongolia and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions. Ostrich bone fossils were found at Zhoukoudian, in the western suburbs of Beijing, where the skull of the Peking Man was discovered.

The Asiatic ostrich, indigenous to China, has been extinct for a long time.

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