Famous Lasts The Last Dodo Bird

About the famous last Dodo bird, a species that has since gone extinct, history and information.

FAMOUS LASTS

THE LAST DODO

It was probably killed on the island of Mauritius in 1681 by Dutch settlers. The dodo was one of the queerest creatures known to man. According to one source, "It looked as if it had been designed by a prankster playing a joke on naturalists." The short, fat bird with tiny, yellow legs and a small tail that stood up like a feather duster weighed about 50 lb. and had wings so small it could not fly. Its hooked bill was 9 in. long, and it had a comical look on its face. Unfortunately for the dodos, they were an excellent source of meat--even though it was rather stringy. After spending centuries on an island free from predatory animals, the dodo was suddenly hunted down. One rather "ratty-looking" stuffed specimen ended up in a museum in Oxford, but during a spring cleaning it was thrown out and burned. Today the only extant specimens are ones built up by taxidermists from recovered bones. The disappearance of the dodo was so dramatic that it has become the epitome of extinction--"as dead as a dodo." Perhaps its Latin name gives a clue to its failure to adapt--Didus ineptus.

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