Shake your tail feather

2014-11-17 00:00

Magnificantly illustrated in chapter three of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: the Dodo bird.

• The flightless bird came to the end of its days in the late 17th century.

• The Dodo or Raphus Cacullatus was endemic to Mauritius where he carried out its merry little life having no predators — that was until the arrival of man. Forever immortalised as the only bird to become extinct due to the influence of humanity, the Dodo had no idea what it was in for.

• Rather than being hunted for its meat (it is said that Dodo meat is not very tasty) the introduction of domestic predators like dogs was the leading cause of its extinction.

• So few samples were taken from live Dodos that many people believed the bird to be a mythical creature stemming from the imagination of weary sailors. In fact, until 1828 sailor’s accounts were the only proof the dear Dodo ever existed.

The myth was shattered as proof of the Dodo was revealed by way of skeletal remain and an Oxford museum keeper named J.S Duncan.


• The closest relative to the Dodo is the pigeon.

 • Dodos are estimated to have weighed 20 kilograms.

 • They only laid one egg at a time (adding to the cause of their


 • Dodos were also called Wallowbirds by Dutch sailors and Pen guins (meaning small wing) by Portuguese sailors.

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