New Study Reveals Secrets Of Extinct Dodo Bird’s Life

Posted: Aug 27 2017, 3:06am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
New Study Reveals the Secrets of Extinct Dodo Bird’s Life
Reconstruction of the dodo. Credit: Agnès Angst

By analysing 22 dodo bones, researchers have mapped out the animal's reproductive and growth cycle.

For the first time, researchers have pieced together the complete life cycle of popular flightless bird whose name became synonymous with stupidity.

Dodo, the long-extinct bird, was found only on the Island of Mauritius. The bird was the close relative of modern pigeons and doves and became extinct by 1680. The exact cause of the dodo's extinction is not known but archeological investigations suggest that human predation was the most likely reason.

Researchers have long studied the skeletons and fossil bones of dodos to better understand the scale and extent of their extinction but the cyclical nature of the bird’s life always remained a mystery. Now, researchers have pained a complete picture of all stages that dodo went through its entire life.

They determined that female dodos ovulated in August, during the southern hemisphere winter. They laid eggs in September while hatching took place a few weeks later. Researchers came to that conclusion based on the study of 22 bones from 22 different dodos. All the bones were from the hind legs except one.

"The chicks grew very quickly to be strong enough to endure the austral summer, which is the season of cyclones and storms on Mauritius, by the end of July, all the feathers would have been renewed and the period of reproduction could start,” said lead study researcher Delphine Angst, a biologist at the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

“We know so little about these birds that everything was basically a surprise.”

Dodos could grow three feet in height and weighted around 22 to 30 pounds. By stuyding the fossils, researchers identified two bones as female which allowed them map out the animal's reproductive and growth cycle.

“Before our work, very few things were known, and now, we can separate the juveniles to the adults, the females to the males. We found some ovulating females which permits us to study the reproduction of this enigmatic bird, and we observed some traces of molting.” Dr Angst told CNN.

The first observations of dodos were documented by Dutch sailor in 1598. Within next century, they had disappeared. Many studies claim that sailors hunted dodos for their meat.

The bird was initially grouped with the carnivorous raptors like emus and ostriches and parrots. Since1800s, it has been classified as part of pigeons and doves family.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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