Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about a meter tall, weighing about 20 kilograms (44 lb), living on fruit and nesting on the ground.

The dodo has been extinct since the mid-to-late 17th century. It is commonly used as the archetype of an extinct species because its extinction occurred during recorded human history, and was directly attributable to human activity. The etymology of the word dodo is not clear. The first recording of the word dodaerse is in captain Willem van Westsanen's journal in 1602. Thomas Herbert used the word dodo in 1627 but it is unclear whether he was the first one, for the Portuguese had already visited the island in 1507, but as far as is known did not mention the bird.

As with many animals that have evolved in isolation from significant predators, the dodo was entirely fearless of people, and this, in combination with its flightlessness, made it easy prey for humans. However, journals are full of reports regarding the bad taste and tough meat of the dodo. It is commonly believed that the Malay sailors held the bird in high regard and killed them only to make head dressings used in religious ceremonies. However, when humans first arrived on Mauritius, they also brought with them other animals that had not existed on the island before, including dogs, pigs, cats, rats, and Crab-eating Macaques, which plundered the dodo nests, while humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes; currently, the impact these animals – especially the pigs and macaques – had on the dodo population is considered to have been more severe than that of hunting. It is likely that the dodo became extinct before 1700; the last Dodo died a little more than a century after the species' discovery in 1581.

No comments:

Post a Comment