Dodo birds were completely flightless birds. These interesting birds went extinct about three hundred years ago and scientists are still discovering amazing facts about their life. Are you ready to dive into learning about the great Dodo bird? Keep on reading our 10 incredible Dodo facts to learn more about this unique bird!
1. Dodo Birds were Awkward Looking Animals
These birds do not resemble the small birds we see flying everywhere today. Dodo birds were only native to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Did you know that these large birds have a head that is nine inches long? Their beaks were hooked and long and they had a stout body with thick legs and stubby wings.
2. They were flightless
Did we mention they were flightless? Dodo birds had lots of tiny feathers, but they could not use them to fly. There is a lack of descriptions for Dodo birds because of how fast they went extinct after the introduction of humans to their islands.
The wings on the Dodo bird’s back were tiny and thought to be for balance purposes. Over millions of years of evolution, the Dodo bird lost its need to fly. Instead, all of its food sources were scattered on the island and within reach. Until humans came with cats, dogs, and their appetites no major predators were hunting the Dodo birds.
3. The First complete skeleton of Dodo was discovered in a cave in Mauritius in 2007.
Have you heard of Fred? In 2007, scientists excitedly rejoined knowing they discovered the most complete skeleton of a Dodo yet in a cave in Mauritius. The scientists named the skeleton Fred with affection. The remains of the Dodo were named Fred since the person who found the skeleton, a 65-year-old man, found them! What a cool legacy!
So far, scientists and researchers only have general ideas about the interesting lives of these fat pigeon birds. Interestingly, Fred was also the first Dodo remains found in the central part of the island, away from the ocean and coast. This suggests that Dodo birds lived throughout the island, not just near the water. The remains, sadly, were super fragile, which is why there are only two complete fossilized Dodo remains in the world.
4. Their closest living relative is the Nicobar pigeon
From what we know, the Dodo bird evolved from pigeons and doves. The closest living relative is the Nicobar pigeon found in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, India. It is a large pigeon, reaching minimum heights of 16 inches, but is nowhere near as large as Dodo birds once were. Nicobar pigeons, unlike their Dodo bird cousins, can fly. They are powerful flyers with beautiful feathers.
5. The last recorded sighting of a Dodo was in 1662
It is common knowledge that Dodo birds went extinct less than 400 years ago, but did you know the last recorded and confirmed sighting of this massive bird was in 1662? The story goes that in the late 1500s, Dutch ships landed on the island.
While the last recorded sighting of a Dodo was in 1662, an escaped slave claims to have seen it into the 1670s, which could be true. Just because the last recorded sighting was in 1662, does not mean these feathered and flightless birds weren’t alive and roaming around.
6. Scientists before the 19th century thought the Dodo was nothing more than a legend.
Imagine the scientists’ surprise when sailors brought back live Dodo birds for the first time in Europe. Before the 19th century, no one believed Dodo birds were real since there was a lack of evidence. This did not last long as sailors and explorers brought back these large and flightless birds as gifts.
7. It was also reported that a Dodo was sent to Nagasaki, Japan in 1647 as a gift. It was the last recorded live Dodo in Captivity.
Only a few live Dodo birds were exported out of their island to Europe and Nagasaki. Since Dodo birds went extinct three hundred years ago, all the confirmation we have are from old written reports.
The last recorded live Dodo in captivity was a Dodo bird sent to Nagasaki on a ship in 1647. Historians and scientists are not certain of the fate of this Dodo bird. In the same ship and gift was a deer.
8. Dodo Birds Were Not Afraid to Fight Back
For the most part, Dodo birds were docile and friendly to humans, probably as a default. They loved being around people which is why we have so many written documents and beautiful paintings depicting these large birds.
While Dodo birds were friendly to the visitors and inhabitants of their island, they also fought back when provoked. Dodo mothers tried to protect their nests from predators like humans, cats, pigs, and rats but were unsuccessful.
9. The Dutch did Not Like the Taste of the Dodo Birds
Contrary to popular belief, the population did not decrease because the Dutch and Portuguese were feasting on Dodo birds. According to written records, the Dutch did not like the taste of the ‘flightless birds’, instead the Dodo bird dwindled because of predators the Dutch brought to the island.
Dodo birds did not have any predators in Mauritius. Instead, they were fat, unable to fly, and friendly birds because of evolution. When the Dutch and Portuguese came on ships to the island, they brought pigs, dogs, and cats which destroyed the Dodo bird population. Dodo birds would build nests in the forest, and their predators would steal the eggs from the nest.
10. There might be enough DNA to bring back the Dodo Bird…Kind of
Can you imagine seeing a real-life Dodo bird in your lifetime? It may be likely! A team of biological researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz found what they call a perfect Dodo specimen that contains enough DNA that they can entirely map out and sequence the Dodo genome. The researchers are working hard to publish the results of the study.
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