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“The Dodo Bird is an iconic symbol of Mauritius, which was an endemic species to the island. It has become a symbol of identity even though unfortunately the species is now extinct

Below I will tell the story of the Dodo by sharing knowledge I have picked up along the way, while living in Mauritius. I am not guaranteeing you to find the same story for yourself. Nevertheless, I cannot impart what I haven't seen or learnt."



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Officially known as the Raphus Cucullatus, but more commonly known as the Dodo, was a large flightless bird. They measured approximately 3 feet tall, weighted up to 20 Kilograms and had a grey feathered body with a white feathered tail. It had a small bald, grey head with beady outset eyes which are presumed to have been a yellow colour.

The bird had small wings as well as small wing muscles which consequently meant it could not fly. Another main characteristic was its large beak and only defence mechanism. The beak is believed to be large and curved with a pale yellow or green colour. It was very heavy allowing the bird to give quite vicious bites.

The bird had long scaly legs with 3 large toes pointing forward and one smaller one pointing backwards on each foot. The legs hinted that the bird could be related to the Pigeon.

It is thought that the Dodo laid only one large egg at a time similar to the Albatros. Other features pointed to Pigeons and Doves being their closest relatives.



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Mauritius Dodo


The Dodo was an endemic species to Mauritius and lived primarily in the forest, only occasionally venturing out to the shore line.

It is believed that the Dodos anatomy stems from the abundance of food and absence of predators on the island of Mauritius. Through evolution the bird consequently got larger while its wings got smaller as it had no need to fly, run or move to other locations.

Therefore it's thought that their diet consisted of nuts, fruit, bulbs and roots with the occasional crab or shellfish thrown in. It is also believed they swallowed fruit pips and small pebbles to help with digestion.



Although it is believe the Dodo lived happily on the Island of Mauritius for 26 millions years, it was only discovered around 1598 by early Dutch and Portuguese sailors on exploration expeditions.

When the Dodos met the humans they were not afraid of them after living in safety with no immediate threats for millions of years.


Therefore with no fright and no flight the Dodos became easy prey for the sailors and a good source of fresh meat on long voyages.

These early settlers are believed to have tried to take some of the birds back to Europe but they did not survive the journey. As a consequence there is little evidence of these birds in Europe.

Fossils and sculptures made from preserved bones can be found at the National History Museum in the Mauritius Capital Port Lois, showing what the bird may have looked like. I have not been to the museum personally but imagine it to be very interesting.



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To put it simply we are to blame for the extinction of the Dodo. Humans made life very difficult for the Dodos for few different reasons:

Firstly the early sailors over hunted and ate many birds. They were very easy to hunt and with nothing else hunting them there were plenty around. The Dodo population quickly declined due to this.

Secondly, the arrival and settlement of humans on the island disrupted habitats threatening the species even more.

Finally, with them, the humans bought new species to the island which the Dodos where not properly prepared for by the processes of evolution. Humans introduced rats, pigs, dogs and moneys which destroyed their habits, added competition for food, destroyed their nests and ate their eggs as well as hunted the birds for food.

All of these factors combined was too much for the survival of the Dodo and consequently they became extinct only 200 years after they were discovered, with the last sighting being in 1681



The Dodo is the national animal of Mauritius and small Dodo souvenirs can be found all over the island in the form of t-shirts, mugs, pens and small ornaments.


The Dodo name has been used by many businesses to gain popularity for example some big brands which come to mind are 'Delivery Dodo' a food delivery service and 'Flying Dodo' who brew a local Mauritian beer. Not to mention supermarkets, restaurants and tourist vendors who have slipped 'Dodo' into their name.


In recent discoveries by scientists from the University of California have managed to put together a string of DNA from the Dodo. This means they have discovered key information about the animals genetics which could be used to bring the bird back to life!

Although it is thought that Dodos would be one of the most harmless animals to bring back to life, there are many arguments for and against this kind of research.

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