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The Extinct Dodo Bird

Updated on March 17, 2013

The Dodo bird was discovered on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean in 1507 by Portuguese explorers. By 1681, the Dodo was declared extinct. Portuguese sailors were the ones who named this friendly bird that had been isolated on the island for years. The sailors named it the Dodo, after the word "dou dou" meaning "simpleton" because of its child-like demeanor and lack of fear. The Dodos had gotten so used to living predator-less lives that they weren't afraid of humans or any other living things. The Dodo gained a reputation of being stupid, although it likely was not. Unfortunately, the Dodo bird became endangered and extinct because of humans. Not only were people killing the birds for food, when the Portuguese used the island as a penal colony, they also introduced dogs and pigs to the ecosystem. These "alien" animals killed off the Dodo bird population by ransacking nests and eating the eggs and young.

A Mauritius Factoid: Of the 45 original bird species on the island, only 21 are left.

Scientists believe that the Dodo evolved into its flightless nature. Once able to fly, the Dodo bird gave up flight for the ability to store a lot of fat during times of scarcity. When fruit was not abundant, the Dodo had to figure out ways to store food as fat in its body for later use. Since there were no predators on the island, prior to the arrival of humans, the Dodo's evolution makes a lot of sense.

In fact, humans are responsible for the extinction of many flightless birds around the world...particularly those who live on islands that were once untouched by man. The Dodo is often used as the classic example of extinction caused by humans.

Dodo Reproductive Habits

According to early records, Dodo birds had monogamous relationships, mating with only one bird for life. Dodo birds bred all year long. The females laid one egg at a time, which hatched 49 days after appearing in the nest, usually in tall grasses. Both parents took turns taking care of the eggs and young.

Mating Ritual: Dodo birds clapped their wings together to attract each other.

Dodo Bird ~ Field Museum Display
Dodo Bird ~ Field Museum Display | Source

Dodo Facts

  • The Dodo bird is related to pigeons and doves.
  • The Dodo bird's average height: 3.3 feet or 1 meter tall.
  • The Dodo bird's average weight: 44 lbs or 20 kgs.
  • The Dodo bird's diet: fruit.
  • Dodo birds nested on the ground ~ they are flightless.
  • The Dodo bird had greyish, blueish plumage.
  • The Dodo bird had a 9-inch bill ~ 23 cm.
  • Dodo birds don't have tongues.

The Dodo Myths

Many people believe the Dodo bird to be a fat, sloppy, clumsy bird that was not very intelligent. In fact, scientists have recently revealed that through examination of their bones and early drawings, the Dodo was actually a rather thin, fast bird. It was actually built much like passenger pigeons, which have also become extinct.

Some people also claimed that the Dodo became extinct strictly because people were hunting and eating them. Others have documented that Dodo meat tasted horrible and they really were not killed for consumption purposes. The facts on this one will never be set straight as eating an extinct bird is impossible.

The Domino's Effect

Due to the extinction of the Dodo bird, the Calvaria tree also became extinct. The tree depended on the Dodo bird to spread its seeds. The Dodo would eat the fruit from the tree, but couldn't digest it. As a result, when the Dodo pooped, it would spread the Cavlaria tree seeds. The seeds wouldn't germinate unless it went through the Dodo's digestive system. This is known as animal-plant mutualism. Without the Dodo to eat the Calvaria fruit, the tree eventually faced extinction as well.

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    • profile image

      tiarra 

      18 months ago

      It's butt is shaped weird.

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Purple Perl 

      7 years ago from Bangalore,India

      Interesting bird. Thanks for well put together info.

    • gypsumgirl profile imageAUTHOR

      gypsumgirl 

      7 years ago from Vail Valley, Colorado

      rorymullen: I agree that we need to be much more aware of our impact on the animals and plants who share our planet with us. Thank you for your comment.

      Winsome: Thanks for your thoughts. Great quote! Funny about the claps...I know I can always count on you for a laugh...feels good after a long week!

      oceansnsunsets: Isn't that chain reaction amazing? I be the extinction of the tree made an impact on something else, and so on, and so on. Thank you for reading!

      K9keystrokes: Thank you. I didn't know they were so big either until I researched it. No wonder they couldn't fly.

      L.L.: Sad, but true. I think they would have been interesting to study.

      Docmo: Thank you for your support! I'm trying to finish up my 30 hubs in 30 days challenge...getting close. Hopefully close enough to succeed!

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      7 years ago from UK

      Sad tale of the Dodo. You're on fire this week, gypsumgirl, with all these interesting hubs! voted up.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma City

      You've answered questions I've had for a long time about the Dodo. Too bad we'll never get to experience them for ourselves.

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      7 years ago from Northern, California

      Very interesting article. I had no idea the Dodo Bird was so big! A 3 foot tall bird is pretty big in my book. Nice job here.

      K9

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 

      7 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Wow, I am amazed and saddened to hear how the extinction of the Dodo bird also resulted in the extinction of that particular tree. Nature is so interconnected and it should not be taken for granted. Thank you for sharing this information.

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 

      7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Well what an interesting collection of facts--thank you GG.

      I can see how the Dodo were able to have a long, monogamous relationship--they had a "clap on-clap off" sex life and no tongue to get into trouble.

      I think our society is getting a little "Dodo-like" with the growing obesity and dependence on others to do, do for us. As Will Rogers said: "Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." =:)

    • rorymullen profile image

      rorymullen 

      7 years ago from Maine

      I never knew DoDo birds where so big and can not fly. We humans again are the blame for whipeing out another amazing animal. We need to start respecting what we have, while we have it.

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