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