Extinct Animals The Dodo Bird Part 1

About the now extinct animal species the Dodo bird, history, physical description, location and how the species died out.


The Dodo

Physical Description: The dodo was a most improbable-looking bird. Standing 3 ft. tall, it was larger than a turkey and primarily ash gray in color. Its 50-lb. body was fat and lumpy, with a ridiculous tuft of curly feathers serving as a tail. It was flightless but still retained stubby wings from which three or four black feathers protruded. Its huge beak, which ended in a hook, was sometimes as long as 9 in. Its legs and heavy feet were large and yellow, and most of its face lacked feathers.

Where and How They Lived: The dodo and its relative, the solitaire, lived on the three Mascarene Islands in the Indian Ocean. The dodo called volcanic Mauritius home and was content to waddle along undisturbed by predators, snacking on native fruits and vegetation. It nested on the ground, and the female laid one big white egg per year.

How and When Destroyed: The Portuguese discovered Mauritius in 1507, but the explorers were soon off in search of other new lands, and their records fail to mention a large, clumsy bird. The discovery of the dodo fell to a Dutch admiral, Jacob Corneliszoon van Neck, who landed on the island in 1598. Fascinated by the huge flocks of odd birds, one of the admiral's colleagues walked through the dodos' nesting grounds to investigate and was "pecked mighty hard" for his interest. Undaunted, Van Neck left Mauritius with two of the birds, one of which stayed in the Netherlands where it posed for 14 portraits, while the other one traveled to Germany to amuse Emperor Rudolf II. The journal Van Neck kept during his voyage was published in 1601. After his description of the dodo he added: "We called these birds walghvogels [disgusting birds] for the reason that the more and the longer they are cooked, the less soft and more unpalatable their flesh becomes." Hungry sailors from the second expedition found the breast meat tasty enough, and their ship left Mauritius with 44 of the birds, enough meat to last them for the rest of the voyage.

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