Everything we know about the extinct bird, Dodo
Dodo, the flightless bird, was the first victim of human-made extinction some 300 years ago. There has been a lack of information about facts and details about this mysterious bird. But we bring for you some astonishing facts about the bird.
Mauritius was the home to Dodos.
Dutch came to Mauritius in 1598 and named the island after Prince Maurice van Nassau. They also found Dodo at that time, and Vice Admiral Wybran van Warwijck in his journal, described the bird vividly. Sir Thomas Herbert, in his book ‘A Relation of Some YearesTravaille into Afrique and the Greater Asia’ in 1634, further described the bird in greater detail. Dodo was not found anywhere else in the world outside Mauritius.
What stopped them from flying?
Dodos descended from the ‘Columbidae’ bird family, which included birds such as pigeons and doves. So, why were Dodo land borne and could not fly at all? Because they had no need! There were no predators in the islands, and flying, which required energy, was never needed to escape. Therefore, later Dodo generations unlearned to fly.
Dodo may not be fat and awkward looking
Rudolf II’s one-time court painter, RoelandtSavery, in 1626 created an image of Dodo that was later gifted to the British Museum in 1759. It was believed that Dodo was drawn by Savery from a live subject that was overfed or a specimen that was overstuffed. This made the Dodo so chubby in the referred painting.
Last Dodo was witnessed in July of 1681
Benjamin Harry, an Englishman who was the first mate on the British vessel Berkeley Castle, is said to be the last human to spot a Dodo in Mauritius. After him, no one ever saw the lovely bird again!
What led to the extinction of Dodo?
When the Dutch sailors landed in Mauritius in 1598, they also brought along their ship rats, dogs, cats and pigs. Dodo was flightless, and never threatened by predators before. It was not hunting by humans but these invasive species that outnumbered Dodos and their eggs for food.
Dodo’s two cousins also went extinct
Solitaire (Pezophaps solitarius), a grey and brown flightless bird with a long neck, lived in Rodrigues and was wiped by the 1760s. The other one was White Dodo of Réunion, a yellowish-white bird with black-tipped wings who was also not seen after 1801.
Dodo was a charismatic and significant species, and its extinction led humans to learn the dangers of human activities and the spread of novel species that can threaten the existence of isolated dwellers.