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The extinction of animals is a very real but tragic topic. I have often researched many species that will never be seen again. I find myself getting emotional over the fatality of so many different species. One species in particular fascinates me, The Dodo. Not just because the name is quirky and seems to fit the bird perfectly, but because of the history behind the Dodo. The Dodo is a lesson in extinction. It was sighted on Mauritius around the 1600 on an island in the Indian Ocean. About sixty years later, it became extinct.

When most people think of a Dodo, they remember the Dodo depicted in the children’s story “Alice in Wonderland”. Much of the fascination with Dodo’s comes from this tale. Unfortunately, the tale is what it is… a story. The facts of a Dodo are very few and scientists are still trying to figure out the birds existence and how it ticked.

The Dodo is bigger than a turkey, approximately weighing 23 kilograms. They would wade in ponds to catch fish for food. They inhabited the forests on the island where they would lay one large egg on a mass of grass. Scientists have deduced from studying the DNA that the Dodo is a descendant of the pigeon. The written reports and illustration of sailors and ship’s naturalists, as well as the information gathered by scientists are all that we have to see a glimpse into the Dodo’s life on Earth.

Unfortunately, there are no complete Dodo specimens. Many theories as to why this is have arisen. Some say the birds may have been eaten by Dutch sailors who discovered them. Others believe the primary cause of their demise was from the destruction of the forest, which cut off their food supply. The animals the sailors brought with them also destroyed the Dodo nests.

From the history and remains collected we can tell the bird was a flightless one. The Dodo’s wings are stubby and heavy, and it’s body ungainly. The small breastbone is too small to support the pectoral muscles a bird this size would need to fly. Scientists believe that the Dodo evolved from a bird capable of flight to a flightless one. Once the Dodo landed on Mauritius, it found a habitat with plenty of food and no predators giving the bird no need to fly. It was more efficient, energy wise, for the bird to remain on the ground. This is how the flightless Dodo evolved.

What remains of the Dodo? Only odd skeleton and other body parts, such as head and feet, scattered around the world in museums. Scientists have discovered the evolution of the Dodo by using fragments of DNA that have been extracted from the bones. The search for information still continues to this day but much of the Dodo’s existence is still a mystery.

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