Dodo ( Raphus cucullatus )

The dodo or the dodo, rare Doudo or Dudu ( Raphus cucullatus, " hood wearing night-bird " ), was a about a meter tall, flightless bird, which occurred exclusively in the islands of Mauritius and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. The dodo fed on fermented fruit and nested on the ground.

The research currently assumes that the species became extinct around 1690.


From reports, we know that the dodo had a blue -gray plumage, an approximately 23 cm long, blackish, curved beak with a red dot and very small useless wings. Furthermore, a tuft of feathers ruffled formed the tail and the bird lay yellow eggs. Dodos were very large and weighed about 20 kg. Because of his weak chest muscles the Dodo could not fly. That was not necessary, since he had no predators on Mauritius.

Traditionally, one has the notion of a fat, clumsy and awkward bird from the Dodo. The biologist Andrew Kitchen explains the impression the fact that the old drawings superfatted showing captive live birds. Since Mauritius has dry and wet seasons, the dodo may have gotten eaten at the end of the rainy season fat in order to survive the dry periods in which there was lack of food. In connection with the prisoner, in the diet throughout the year was available, the Dodo was overfed and thus particularly bold.

One of the few realistic images of a living dodo was created by the Indian painter Ustad Mansur at the beginning of the 17th century.


1690 reported the Englishman Benjamin Harry for the last time from a Dodo in Mauritius. Main reason for the extinction of the species may have been entrained rats, and introduced and feral pets and especially pigs and monkeys, which destroyed the nest of ground-nesting birds by eating their eggs. Since the Dodo originally had no enemies, he had no escape or defense behavior. The familiarity of the dodo and the inability to fly, made him an easy target for people. Although he was not tasty, but suitable as fresh meat for long voyages. The eggs were eaten by sailors in masses.

Less than 100 years after its discovery, the dodo was extinct. Of these, little notice was taken until the Dodo was mentioned in 1865 in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. With the popularity of the book, the popularity of the bird grew.


A team of researchers from Oxford University to Beth Shapiro succeeded in 2002 in isolating DNA fragments of bone. The DNA comparison revealed a close relationship of the dodo with the also extinct Rodrigues solitaire and still living East Asian airworthy Nicobar Pigeon.

In June 2006, discovered a led by the Dutch geologist Kenneth Rijsdijk research group in Mauritius an entire deposit of animal bones and plant seeds in a pit in a former bog. Among these many skeletal parts of the dodo were found, about a full leg and a very rarely found beak. Rijsdijk appreciated his Dodo Fund as the most comprehensive one ever. The discovery of the Dodo mass grave is regarded by the Dutch research team as an indication that a natural disaster has wiped out a significant portion of the Dodo and the Dodo Ökotops population before the arrival of man. When natural disaster it could have been a cyclone or a sudden rise in sea level.

Although some museums exhibit a collection of dodo skeletons, there has been no complete skeleton world. Early 2011, was discovered in Grant Museum of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy, University of London with a procession in a drawer half of a Dodo. A dodo egg is shown in the East London museum in South Africa.

The Bird and the Dodobaum

The Seed of Calvariabaumes ( Dodobaum ) Sideroxylon grandiflorum, a previously frequent tree in Mauritius can be brought difficult to germinate. The theory that it germinates only after passage of the intestinal tract of the dodo, but is not sufficiently proven.


The earliest written evidence of the word dodo comes from the diary of Captain Willem van West - Zanen of 1602. However, is not ruled out that the term Dodo has also been used in the past. The origin of the word dodo is unknown and is therefore described controversial:

  • One theory that comes from Dodo dodaar, the Dutch name of the dwarf diver. The Little Grebe can be just as poorly run, and this made him sooner an easy prey for Dutch sailors.
  • Another theory derives the word from the outdated Portuguese doudo, which means as much as " fool " or " simpleton ". The bird is said to have received this name from the sailors, because this bird people always came very close and it was easy to kill him.
  • David Quammen believed that Dodo an onomatopoeic approximation of the output by Dodo sound is a zweitöniger deaf similar reputation as the doo -doo sounded.

Related species

With the Rodrigues solitaire on Rodrigues was the Dodo (formerly scientifically Didus ineptus also called ) in the family of Dronten ( Raphidae ) grouped within the order Pigeons Birds. According to aspects of the genealogical history ( phylogeny ), these two species in the family of pigeons ( Columbidae; A. Janoo 2005) are provided. All Dronten were flightless, large birds that lived exclusively on either of the islands of the Mascarene archipelago.

From the enigmatic Réunion solitaire ( " Raphus solitarius ", " White Dodo " ) from the island of Réunion just some difficult to interpret pictures are left. According to a recent theory, it is identical to the extinct Ibis Threskiornis solitarius. According to other views, it was birds that had been brought by sailors from Mauritius to Reunion Island. The brighter plumage would then be explained by that it could well have been albinos or young birds.

Images of Dodos

Dodo (17th century)

Engraved by George Edwards ( 1760)

Dodo skeleton at the Natural History Museum (London, England)

Savery: Landscape with Birds ( 1628) - Representation of a Dodo (bottom right)

Drawing from Reunion Dodo 1638 by Pieter Holsteyn II issued in Naturalis (Leiden, Netherlands)

Picture and description of Conrad Gesner (1516-1565) Bird Book ( German and improved edition of 1669 ).


The dodo is the heraldic animal in the coat of arms of Mauritius. Here he is the ( heraldic ) right plate holder.