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Text: Birds.
Photo: Dodo, Raphus cucullatus.
Dodo, Raphus cucullatus
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Where are they found? Indian Ocean

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First seen by Europeans in 1598, the Dodo was extinct shortly after 1640. Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean, was its only home. Human activity is to blame for its extinction.

Hunting by sailors and settlers had a significant, harmful impact on its population. The Dodo could not fly, so it was easy to catch, and its large size—males often weighed up to 21 kg (46 lb.) and females could reach 17 kg (37 lb.)—meant that it was a valuable source of food, although perhaps not a taste-favourite.

Survival of the species was also partly undermined by the clearing of its forest habitat for settlement and agriculture. Finally, the pigs, cats, rats, and monkeys that were introduced to the island became the Dodo's first land predators. (The absence of land predators on Mauritius had led to the evolution of their inability to fly).

Today all that remains of the Dodo are bones and some pieces of skin that were salvaged from the head and legs of a 17th-century specimen. These are kept in museum collections.

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Photo: Dodo, Raphus cucullatus.

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“Dodo”. [Online]. Natural History Notebooks. Canadian Museum of Nature.
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