Dodo (†Raphus Brisson, 1760)
Dimensions: lwas about 1 m tall and may have weighed 10–18 kg in the wild.
Temporal range: endemic to the island of Mauritius, east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. Extinction date of 1693
The Dodo is an extinct, flightless bird that was endemic to the Mascarene island of Mauritius east of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. It is genetically related to pigeons and doves, and its closest relative is the likewise extinct Rodrigues Solitaire, the two forming the Raphinae subfamily. The closest living relative is the Nicobar. A white Dodo was believed to have existed on the nearby island of Réunion, but this is now known to be incorrect.
The Dodo was about one metre tall and may have weighed 10–20 kg in the wild. Its external appearance is evidenced only by paintings and written accounts from the 17th century. Because these vary considerably, and only a few sketches are known to have been drawn from life, its exact appearance remains a mystery. The same is true of its habitat and behaviour. It was depicted with brownish grey plumage, yellow feet, and a tuft of tail feathers, a grey, naked head, and a beak coloured black, yellow and green. It used gizzard stones to help digest its food, which included fruit, and it is believed to have mainly inhabited the woods on the drier coastal areas of Mauritius. It is assumed that the Dodo became flightless because of abundant food sources and the absence of predators on Mauritius.