You have probably already heard of the dodo or dodo, that big, greedy bird that died at the hands of the conquerors. Many people are familiar with this story, but little is known about this animal that lived for a long time in Mauritius and Reunion Island, long before the arrival of man.
The only information available on the dodo is old descriptions and a few specimens on display in museums around the world. There were two species, the common dodo (the common dodo) and the white dodo (the white dodo), where the latter lived on Reunion Island. So the dodo, a living bird, endangered or extinct? Although some internet pages tell you that the dodo bird still exists, the dodo has indeed disappeared.
The Sleeping Bird – Features and Environment
The dodo was an apterous bird endemic to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. This bird was present only in this region, and its body and way of life adapted to live on this island.
As the dodo had no natural predator, it lost the ability to fly. Its adaptation to life on land resulted in a series of changes in its anatomy. Its wings atrophied and its tail became shorter. Its most popular distant relative is the dove.
The body of the dodo bird, covered with feathers, was 1 m high and weighed about 10 kg. Its plumage was usually white or greyish. It had a long break of about 20 cm, with a hook-shaped tip reflecting its eating habits. The dodo probably used it to crack coconuts. Its legs were yellow and sturdy, similar to those of chickens.
The dodo is still described as a large, slow and gluttonous bird. However, it is most likely that conquerors, seeing their docile nature, kept them in captivity. Under these conditions, they were surely fattened up to be eaten. So the image of the dodo as a fat, fat bird may not be the most accurate. It’s likely that in the wild its body size is smaller.
The dodo bird nested on the ground, another disadvantage when it came to protecting its young from predators.
The Sleeping Bird – First Observations
The first known data on the dodo in Europe date back to 1574. In 1581, a Spanish navigator brought a specimen of a dodo bird back to Europe. This was the first time this animal was observed in the “old world”.
Its name, which means “stupid”, is believed to have been given to it by Portuguese navigators, although its origin is uncertain. Today it is known as the dodo (Raphus cucullatus) or dodo bird.
Why is the dodo bird extinct?
The arrival of man on the island did not only bring the threat of direct hunting. Men brought with them pigs, rats, dogs and other animals that were introduced to Mauritius. These species were undoubtedly a determining factor in the extinction of the dodo.
Due to the docile nature of these animals and their way of life, dodo birds became easy prey for these new predators. And not only adult specimens. Nesting on the ground is a huge disadvantage against predators.
As for man, it should be pointed out that he is the main cause of this animal’s extinction. The incursion into their habitat in the 17th century led to their extinction around 1662. In less than a century, the species ceased to be observed.
Its exploitation as food and the recklessness of the men of the time brought the dodo species to extinction. These animals were only present in this region and were the result of isolated evolution on an island. They were not prepared to compete with other animals for resources they had always had.
The dodo’s feathers, especially those of the white dodo, were highly prized, and these animals were also hunted for them.
To learn more about animals that have become extinct because of man, such as the dodo bird, visit our article on the 15 animals that have become extinct because of man.
The dodo bird – Dodo lifestyle, food, and habitat
In Mauritius, there is a dry season and a rainy season. It seems that the dodo was adapted to this situation and his way of life depended on the season. The dodo accumulated fat reserves during the rainy season in order to use them during the dry season.
As for its diet, it is said to have been associated with the tambalacoque tree. This tree, also known as the dodo tree, is endemic to Mauritius and has great longevity. Its wood is highly valued and it is believed that the dodo fed on its seeds.
The main diet of the dodo bird was probably also composed of other seeds, small insects and fruits, although texts of the time give little information on this subject.
As mentioned above, several reasons have led to the disappearance of the dodo bird. It is not only in the news that species are disappearing, the dodo is an example of extinction that could have been avoided.
The arrival of humans on Mauritius or Reunion Island marked the decline of the dodo’s life, animals with no defense instinct, which perished as prey to humans and other animals. Due to the fact that its population was concentrated on only a few islands, and as a consequence of intensive hunting, they disappeared in a short time.
If humans had introduced this species to other places, the dodo bird might still be present among us. Some specimens were taken from Mauritius, but only as isolated individuals and in many cases already dissected.
Since 1662, there have been subsequent records of sightings of the dodo bird, but this is not reliable information. Moreover, they are only a few decades after 1662. Even if the species would not have been completely extinct then, it is likely that only a few dodo specimens remained that disappeared only a few years later.