What’s the Deal With Dodos?
they are not as dumb as you might of thought
If there’s an animal that died during the holocene that people seemed to remember that animal would have to be the
mammoth Dodo. Unsurprisingly alot of people know almost nothing about the famous flightless bird. But don’t fret after reading this post you will know more than you ever needed to know about the Dodo. To start it off the Dodo (Raphus cucullatus) was a species of flightless pigeon that found its way to the isle of Mauritius. They were fairly large birds with adults reportedly growing up to 3 feet tall and weighing around 40 pounds. Like several other flightless island birds they evolved on an island with no mammalian predators, so eventually their pigeon ancestors lost their wings and instead grew powerful legs and bills. Meaning that dodos spent all of their time on the ground where they feed on fruit and seeds using their powerful bills. Not too much is known about their behavior as they were never studied in detail. Unfortunately we all know how this story ends, in the 17th century Dutch sailors landed on Mauritius and a combination of introduced predators which fed on the dodo’s eggs and overharvesting of dodos for meat led the species to its fate in 1662. The dodo’s story does not end here though as it had several species related to it. The most closely related bird was the Rodrigues Solitaire (Pezophaps solitaria) which was another species of large flightless pigeon that was native to the island of Rodrigues but unfortunately they shared the same fate as the dodo and went extinct in 1778. Don’t worry though the dodo does have some relatives that are still alive. The dodo and solitaire were both members of the subfamily Raphinae which is an offshoot of the family Columbidae which houses most common doves/pigeon like the Rock Dove (Columbia livia). Since we placed the dodo in columbidae we can tell through the use of molecular data what species were most closely related to the dodo. Results from such an analysis show that the closest living relative of the dodo was The Nicobar Pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica). The Nicobar Pigeon is then followed by the Victoria Crowned Pigeon (Goura victoria) and the mysterious Tooth-billed Pigeon (Didunculus strigirostris). However this only means they were related and does not imply a close relationship. Well hopefully that answers any questions you might of had about the dodo, and I hope you all are dodo experts now.
Cladogram of Raphiniae and closest related species
*This post is pretty long so this should summarize it up pretty good
*Also i highly recommend a reading of Lost Land of the Dodo for further information on Mauritius’s numerous extinct animals.