The dodo was a large flightless bird was native to the Island of Mauritius (located to the east of Africa and Madagascar). This species is best known for becoming extinct in the 17th century, with the last sighting of this species in 1688. The extinction of this bird brought about many changes in the scientific community (extinction was once believed to be impossible) and was a catalyst for understanding human relationships with animals. The dodo is still used as a symbol for the protection of endangered species today. Let’s find out why the dodo became extinct.
How did the dodo become extinct?
The dodo lived in isolation from any major predators and it meant that when humans came into contact with this animal it showed no fear. This meant that they were easy to catch and made easy prey for sailors visiting the islands. However, this is no longer believed to be the major reason for the extinction of this species. Once humans began to inhabit the island of Mauritius they brought other animals with them. Some of these animals, such as dogs, pigs, cats, rats and monkeys, began to raid dodo nests and compete for food on the island. Humans also destroyed the forests on the island, which provided protection for this species.
There is some evidence that the dodo was in decline before encountering humans. In 2005 fossil evidence was recovered of a flash flood on the island, which could have put significant pressure on the survival of the species before human interaction. There is also fossil evidence that points to severe drought in the history of the island.
Did you know?
The term “to go the way of the Dodo” is a popular English saying that means to become extinct or obsolete. Calling someone a dodo is considered to be an insult to their intelligence.
There is a common perception that the dodo became extinct because they lacked intelligence and were fat and clumsy. However, this view may have been distorted because most descriptions of the birds were from those overfed specimens kept in captivity or stuffed specimens in museums.