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The Extinct Dodo

The Dodo, Didus ineptus, inhabited the islands of Mauritius and Bourbon off Southern Africa in the Indian Ocean, east of Madagascar.  Discovered with the islands in the beginning of the 16th Century it became extinct by the end of the 17th Century.



 Wilhelm Kuhnert

Contradicting records left some confusion over their traits, habits and palatability. Some accounts said they were fast runners, some said slow and lazy. Skeletal examinations lead some to believe common illustrations of today are inaccurate. Some believe it stood taller than depicted

Dodos likely ranged in weight according to seasonal diets and reproduction periods.  They grew to about 50 lbs.  They had a greenish yellow bill, black fluffy down and feathers and black feet.



Certainly they were eaten as many wildfowl were then whether tasty or not.  They could be caught by hand, but one had to be careful. Their enormous, hooked bill could inflict severe injury.

Their call sounded like a gosling.  They had no tongue.  A stone could be found in a butchered dodo's gizzard. They placed a stone the size of a chicken egg next to their own lone egg (about 3.5 inches in length) in their ground nest.



Introduced pigs, monkeys and rats fed on the Dodo's nest eggs until there were no more.



This Dodo skeleton was retrieved from the mud of a lake in Mauritius.  The foot was what remained after Oxford destroyed most of a moldy, insect infested specimen. Previously forgotten specimens were discovered in 2005.


Dodo by Roland Savery, 1626

This illustration by Roland Savery was painted using a live Dodo which was brought to Europe in the early seventeenth century. 



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