Israeli ostrich. Ancient relatives?
Was the Sharon region, just north of Tel Aviv, an African-type savanna with underbrush several million years ago? The answer is perhaps to be found in tests being conducted on four ancient ostrich eggs discovered on Sunday near Kibbutz Yakum.
One of the eggs. 'Laid thousands of years ago' (Photo: Yaniv Levi, Israel Nature and Parks Authority)
The eggs were found by chance by Yonatan Baruch, a farmer who was spraying the potato fields of Kibbutz Shefayim and Kibbutz Yakum. Seeing what looked like four stones west of the Coastal Road near Kibbutz Yakum, Baruch got off his tractor and discovered that the objects actually were more like large eggs. He then told Alon Potash, a farmer from Kibbutz Shefayim, of his discovery.
According to Potash, “when I saw the objects I realized that we had something out of the ordinary on our hands. The eggs were whole and lighter than stones. We shook two of them and they seemed totally empty. One of the other eggs sounded like it had powder in it, and the fourth egg had something liquid in it. They were light brown and had a scale-like substance on them that had apparently built up over the years.”
The heavy rains that fell in the area two weeks ago created a one-meter channel in the ground that apparently uncovered the eggs and swept them to the edge of the field, where they were eventually found lying in the eroded earth.
Potash brought the eggs to an employee of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, who gave them to Authority inspectors.
Dr. Yariv Melihi, central region ecologist for the Authority, gave the eggs an initial examination. Melihi noted that “they were whole. In the past ostrich egg fragments had been found near the Herzliya marina, and they were dated at 5,500 years old. But we thought that they were fragments that had been used as eating utensils. The eggs found now were whole, not fragments, which could indicate that ostriches grew in the Sharon region. If this is true, since we know that ostriches live chiefly in the African savanna, where the growth is low, perhaps the Sharon region, too, once looked this way.”
The eggs were sent to the Israeli Sea Turtle Rescue Center in Michmoret for examination. Lab tests are also being conducted, and after the Passover holiday the eggs will be x-rayed and undergo additional tests to assess when they were laid. “On the face of it it appears that these eggs are from thousands of years ago,” Melihi said.