MadSci Network: Zoology

Re: Is it possible that there are still some dodo birds today?

Date: Fri Aug 6 11:34:11 2010
Posted By: Will Higgs, Consultant
Area of science: Zoology
ID: 1281048870.Zo

Thank you for your interesting question about the dodo, it's fascinating to think that mysterious animals may be living amongst us, unrecognised.

You don't say where the video came from, but if we assume that it was North America it is worth thinking for a moment about the number of wildlife rangers, professional photographers and people like yourself there are in that area, all with cameras, and all very interested in spotting new kinds of animals. How long could a big, flightless bird like a dodo live in such a place without being discovered ?

The dodo was a very large bird, of strange appearance. It was only ever found on Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean and there is a lot of evidence for its extinction about 250 years ago. It became extinct because sailors used to kill them for food, and visitors introduced rats, pigs and other animals to the island which the dodo had no defence against. How long would it survive in America, an area with cats, dogs, raccoons and coyotes ?

Animals cannot survive for long on their own, they need to be part of a thriving population, so there would need to be thousands of dodos living close together somewhere if they were to suvive until today.

I expect the bird on the video was a young one, baby birds can look quite strange, but I would be very surprised to find any dodos alive today.

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