Dodo

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Who: First mentioned by Dutch sailors in 1598.

What: An extinct flightless bird.

Where: Mauritius, an island country in the Indian Ocean.

Why: Competition with extinct species, destruction of habitat.

When: Last widely accepted sighting in 1662.

“The dodo never had a chance. He seems to have been invented for the sole purpose of becoming extinct and that was all he was good for” – Will Cuppy

 The poor dodo (Raphus cucullatus) has entered our lexicon purely for being dead and stupid. It evolved in an environment free of predators, (much like the kiwi), and it was probably not hunted for food, as is commonly suggested, as it seems to have tasted awful. Lewis Carroll popularised the dead bird as a character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, making the dodo an icon of extinction. It has been embraced in Mauritius, featuring on its coat of arms, and on its banknotes, and by wildlife organisations around the world. 

Further reading:

http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/learning/pdfs/dodo.pdf

http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/species-of-the-day/collections/curation/raphus-cucullatus/index.html

A 1907 illustration of a dodo.

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