More Dodo Expeditie Info

Dodo's en reuzenschildpadden in de Mare aux Songes

It seems that the Dodo Expedition had a happy end: Discovery of lower body of Dodo, complete skeleton within reach.

Besides Dodo bones the research team recovered bones of the extinct giant tortoise (Cylindraspis) and bones of jet unidentified reptile and bird species. Also they encountered abundant seed material of endemic trees including those of the Tambalacoque (Dodo tree). A few specimens of this nearly extinct tree currently occur in the central part of Mauritius. It is therefore a great surprise that these seeds occur nearby the sea at Mare aux Songes. Mauritian and European scientists investigate how it is possible that so many bones and seeds have been so well conserved in the soil after several thousands of years and why the locality is so extremely rich in bone material.

Julian Hume found a dodo bone
The purpose of the current expedition is to reconstruct the world of the Dodo (Raphus cucullatus) before Western man set foot on the island of Mauritius and wiped out the species. The expedition will seek to clarify the Dodos ecotope and explain why it became extinct. The excavation in Mare aux Songes, in the south eastern tip of Mauritius will continue to the 3rd of July 2006.

The immediate reason for this expedition was the rare find on 28 October 2005 of a completely undisturbed layer of botanic remains and bones, including Dodo fossils, on the island of Mauritius. This material is up to 3000 years old. There have been previous 20th-century finds of Dodo bones on Mauritius, but no-one previously sought to study the geology or ecology of these sites. This type of research is needed to reconstruct the landscape, fauna and flora and establish whether these animals were wiped out all at once by a natural disaster. The Mascarene Islands, of which Mauritius is one, are unique in that they probably have the only Dodo-fossil sites in the world.

The expedition ended, but there are some interesting material about dodos in the site. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the English version of that part of the site and all the links goes to pages in Dutch. Doel van de expeditie talks (I think) about the expedition, the first dodo bone find in many time, in 2005, that inspired this new expedition and traces what could have been the dodo habitat.

Julian Hume dodo habitat
Reconstruction of the dodo habitat at the time of the early Dutch colonisation of Mauritius, in the 17th century, by Julian Hume, 2005

From this Naturalis page go to explore other sessions about the expedition: who participated, site explored – Mare aux Songes, the techniques used at the lad to study the bones and an informative about the dodo.

At the informative page, the session Dodo fact sheet has more information about dodos, their habitat, dodos at museums, a brief history of dodos after the Netherlands colonization, dodo DNA and a dodo skeleton compared with a Roelant Savery painting:

Savery painting - dodo skeleton

And finally the Stuur uw dodo-foto’s in contains pictures of dodo’s skeletons from other museums: American Museum of Natural History of New York and The Natural History Museum of London.

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