Dodo Birds – A Misunderstood Extinction Story

By | September 7, 2018

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(Raphus cucullatus), Columbidae. Artwork by Kevin Lyles. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)

Although they are extinct, dodo birds live on in many of our sayings and phrases. “Dead as a dodo,” “Gone the way of the dodo”, “dumb as a dodo bird,” and “the last of the dodos” are just a few. Most of us know very little about the bird whose name has come to symbolize something that is outdated, ineffective, and useless. In reality, the dodo bird was not the clumsy, bumbling, stupid animal that has been depicted in pop culture, most notably in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The dodo bird was the unfortunate victim of man’s environmental impact and has served as a case study for extinction. 

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Yes, Dodo Birds Really Once Existed

Dodos were real. The tubby, flightless bird, which is most closely related to the pigeon, once made its home on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, to the east of Madagascar. Fossil records and early drawings of the bird show that it was around three feet tall and probably weighed 30 to 40 pounds. Drawings and paintings made from live specimens show that the bird most likely had gray-brown feathers, yellow feet and beaks, and a naked head. Early observations of the dodo bird claim that the bird laid only a single egg in its nest. It probably ate the native fruits found on the island.