|MadSci Network: Evolution|
Hi Neil, This is a tricky question since it is hard to distinguish between "armchair anthropology" and science. Please note that originally I was an anthropologist. You really need to read some of Stephen Jay Gould's masterful works on Darwin and Evolution. He deals with a lot of these seemingly difficult subjects. As a short answer, Dodos probably became flightless because selection pressure on a small, remote island was against flight. I can hazard a guess that flying birds got literally blown away, and their flightless cousins stayed to breed. Here's a reference on Dodos http://www.davidreilly.com/dodo/dodo-faq.txt The deer question is even more interesting since it is specifically addressed in Gould's book - Ever Since Darwin! here's a reference for big antlers! http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/mammal/artio/irishelk.html
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Evolution.