Dead As A ...DODO

The Dodo is now extinct. Dodos were descendents of a type of pigeon, which settled on Mauritius over 4 million years ago. With no predators to attack them they evolved into a ground bird incapable of flight.

In 1598 the Dutch took possession of the island, using it as a port for sailing ships travelling across the Indian Ocean. Sailors stopping at the island would slaughter the unwary bird for sport. The last dodos were finally killed off in the 1670s after introduced predatory dogs, cats, monkeys, pigs and rats over populated the island, attacking and destroying the eggs, chicks and adults.

The usual image of the dodo is of a fat ungainly bird with soft downy feathers. However by examining the skeletal remains and then reconstructing the body’s muscles and tissue layers, researchers have determined that the dodo was not necessarily fat. This has been confirmed by comparing recently discovered drawings, and descriptions made from wild dodos before they became extinct. Thay showed that the dodo was a slim and handsome bird. It now appears that captive dodos sent abroad to Europe were over-fed and poorly exercised. Artists working from these specimens prepared the paintings fron which we recognise the dodo. Unfortunately they assumed this was their natural size and shape.