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Kingdom Animalia (animals) Phylum Chordata (chordates) Class Aves (birds) Order Columbiformes (pigeons) Family Raphidae (dodos and solitaires) Genus Raphus Species Raphus cucullatus Authority (Linnaeus, 1758)

In the year 1598, Portuguese sailors landing on the shores of the island of Mauritius discovered a previously unknown species of bird, the Dodo. Having been isolated by its island location from contact with humanity, the dodo greeted the new visitors with a child-like innocence. The sailors mistook the gentle spirit of the dodo, and its lack of fear of the new predators, as stupidity. They dubbed the bird "dodo" (meaning something similar to a simpleton in the Portuguese tongue). Many dodo were killed by the human visitors, and those that survived man had to face the introduced animals. Dogs and pigs soon became feral when introduced to the Mauritian eco-system. By the year 1681, the last dodo had died, and the world was left worse with its passing.

The dodo bird, historically, has been viewed as a rather plump bird, The length of the dodo was about 100cm (3ft, 3in) and weighing approximately 20-23 kilograms. The dodo had a large, hooked, bowed beak. Despite its large build, the dodo had small, weak wings which could not lift it into the air. What distinguishes the dodo from many other birds is not just its size, but that it was flightless. It had large legs, a short neck and a 23cm long enormous thick. At the end of its thickset figure the dodo had a tussle feathers.

Thus it was easy prey to the Portuguese invaders who would club the bird to death as it approached them seeking friendship.

The plumage of the dodo was greyish with darker upperparts and lighter on throat and abdomen.

The tail feathers were whitish.

The thighs were blackish. The bare part of the face was probably ash-coloured, while the feet and legs were yellow. The iris was probably whitish, and its beak green or black, perhaps with some yellow. (Fuller, 2000)

Work has been done by a Curator of the Royal Museum of Scotland, Andrew Kitchener, which suggest that the dodo could have been as light as between thirteen and seventeen kilograms.

analizing dodo bones, he has come up with a prediction that shows the dodo wasn't a fat plump bird at all.
Ancient opinions had been based around European portraits of the bird. These may have been a romanticized version of the truth, or those dodo removed from their natural environment may have been fattened up.

The dodo is quite distinct from the solitaire (a relative of the dodo which lived on the island of Reunion.) The nests of the dodo bird were, by necessity, built on the ground as the bird was flightless. The dodo's young were afforded little protection on the ground against introduced predators, such as the feral dogs and wild pigs left behind by sailors. Dodo eggs were trampled and eaten by such creatures, and the ability to repopulate the species after hunting of the bird was seriously affected.

Dodo birds were once the inhabitants of Mauritius, a small, island which lies approximately 500 miles east of Madagascar. Although Mauritius has many different regions, the dodo mainly resided in the forests.

The Mauritian calvaria tree, soon after the dodo bird became extinct, stopped sprounting seeds, and it appeared it would soon face extinction itself. While it was not initially apparent, the calvaria would only sprout seeds after having been eaten and digested by the dodo bird.

Some scientists disagree on the connection between dodo and calvaria, but others believe that the dodo played an integral part in the spreading of calvaria seeds. Turkeys have been given seeds to digest, and it is believed they can perform a similar role.