Extinction of the Dodo

And the Bird in Modern History

The Dodo and Discovery of this Bird

Early Dodo Pictures

Further Dodo History

Extinction of the Dodo and the Bird in Modern History

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Continued from Further Dodo History.

Final Records and Extinction of the Dodo

An escaped slave called Simon claimed that he had still seen a dodo in 1674 but the final piece of proof of the existence of the Dodo is contained in a journal written by an Englishman called Benjamin Harry, who was the Chief Mate of a ship called the Berkley Castle which moored at Mauritius.  This indicates that the Dodo survived until 1681.  In an entry dated 3rd July 1681, Harry writes that "of winged and feathered ffowle, the less passant are Dodos whose fflesh is very hard".  This journal, the full title of which is "1679-82: journal of voyage to Bengal and back, kept by Benjamin Harry, chief mate", is now (as at 2006) in the safekeeping of the British Museum (Record Reference Sloane MS 3668 ff89-111b).

It is thought that the Dodo finally became extinct between 1681 and 1690.   The French Hugenoot François Leguat, spent several months searching for Dodos in 1693 on Mauritius, but was unable to find any, so we can assume that they had become extinct by then.

Scientists David Roberts and Andrew Solow wrote in 2003, in the publication Nature that they had developed a statistical method calculating how long a species probably survived after last being sighted by human eyes. They used the ten last "reliable" sightings of the dodo, only including a 1662 report by a Dutch sailor called Volquard Iverson who was stranded on mauritius in that year as the last "reliable" sighting, and reached the conclusion that the Dodo probably died out 28 years later, around 1690.

The main reason for the extermination of the species might have been the introduction of rats as well as domestic animals. Above-all, pigs which became wild again, and destroyed the clutches of eggs of the soil-breeding bird, and also monkeys would have been potential threats.  Since the Dodo originally possessed no natural enemies, it had no escape or defense behavior.  It does not seem to have had any particular fear of human beings, which would have made the hunting of Dodos particularly easy, thus wiping them out even quicker than if they had a strong inbuilt fear of man.  The appearance of new diseases and the destruction of forests, on which the dodo depended to a great extent, would also have been probable causes for the Dodo's extinction.

Further discussion about the extinction of this gigantic Pigeon is included under the pages relating to EXTERMINATION, and it should be kept in mind that the Dodo is just one of many species which has sadly disappeared in relatively recent history.  Two closely related birds who lived on the nearby islands of Reunion and Rodriguez (SOLITAIRE) have ceased to exist in similar ways.

The Dodo in Literature and Modern History

The Dodo has appeared in diverse literary works, as it is the case of “Alicie in Wonderland”, by Lewis Caroll. It appears in chapter 3 of this book, in where dodo organizes an absurd race in which it decides that all have won and therefore, all must receive a prize.

Porky in Wackyland is a cartoon film from 1934, in which the Dodo is a main personage. The plot of the film begins when Porky Pig is asked to captures the last Dodo, which is in a called country Wackyland, in which the most absurd things turn happend from the most usual.

In the film Ice Age, a group of Dodos appear, preparing themselves for the oncoming cold.  They aim to survive with only three watermelons.

A Dodo and a Sambur Deer and featured supporting the Mauritius coat of arms.  The Dodo is also the logo for Gerald Durrell's Wildlife Conservation Trust at Jersey Zoo.

In Japanese the Dodo is sometimes called “the foolish pigeon" (gukiyuu).  In English the expression "dead as a Dodo“ is used to describe something that has irreparably passed, broken or died.

And finally, the Dodo is an everlasting symbol of the destructive power that humanity has over nature, and its ability to completely wipe out an entire species.  But in a strange way, it may represent hope that mankind may see the error of its ways and may, hopefully, become kinder and more aware of the effects that humans can make to this fragile world.
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