Portuguese sailors were the
first to see the fat, ungainly bird now known as
the dodo, when they inadvertently landed on the
island of Mauritius in 1507. The Dutch colonized
Mauritius in 1644, and brought with them several
animals which preyed on the defenseless birds.
The interference of foreign animals coupled with
the overuse of the birds for food quickly led to
the dodo's extinction, in 1681.
All present-day descriptions of
the dodo are based on impartial skeletons and a
few written accounts dating back to the 1600's.
However, it appears that the dodo was a large,
plump bird covered in soft, gray feathers, with a
plume of white at its tail. It had very small
wings, and short, stubby legs. One of its most
distinguishing features was its crooked and
hooked beak, which was light green or pale yellow
Distribution and Habitat
The dodo inhabited the island
of Mauritius, located about 500 miles east of
Madagascar. Although many popular stories and
pictures place the dodo along the shores of that
island, it was actually a forest-dwelling bird.
Specifics about mating and
incubation periods were never recorded, but it
was believed that the female laid one egg in a
bed of grass, which she would then protect until
Other Habits and
Sailors who saw the dodo
commonly described it as a lazy, rather dumb
bird. It had little need for defensive behaviors
since it had no enemies until discovered by
humans and their domesticated animals.
genus & species Raphus cucullatus
Animal Diversity Web http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Raphus_cucullatus/
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