Nature & Environment
Scientists reveal lost secrets of the dodo
By T.K. Randall
August 26, 2017 · 5 comments
What were these birds really like ? Image Credit: William Hodges
Relatively little is known about the iconic species which was wiped out by humans over 350 years ago.
The dodo, a flightless bird that once inhabited the island of Mauritius, is perhaps the best known example of a species hunted to extinction by man - a creature that has since become synonymous with the idea that our activities on this planet can have dire consequences for other species.
The first reported encounter with a dodo was by Dutch sailors in 1598 and by 1662 the species had been completely wiped out due to hunting and the destruction of its habitat.
Now scientists have been able to shed some light on what these long-lost birds might have actually been like by analyzing the bones of 22 specimens under a microscope.
Their findings suggested that the chicks would have hatched in August before growing rapidly to adult size, something that would have helped them to survive during the hurricane season.
The birds would have also shed their feathers in March, revealing a fluffy grey plumage.
"Before our study we knew very very little about these birds," said Delphine Angst of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. "Using the bone histology for the first time we managed to describe that this bird was actually breeding at a certain time of the year and was moulting just after that."
Source: BBC News
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