The animator and designer Evan Boucher sent me a link to one of his old projects: DIGM 560: Advanced Applications in 3D Interactivity featuring Dodo’s Electrode Induced Behavior Study. You can play with the dodo checking his reactions when certain areas of his brain are stimulated, making him happy, angry, frightened or sad. Sad dodo is too sad, better keep only on the 3 previous emotions.
I have no idea how or when did I found this, but probably a long long time ago a saved a link the following PDF: Fiches Thématiques De la Bibliothèque du MHNG nº2 – Le Dodo. The MHNG in question is the Muséum d’histoire naturelle de la Ville de Genève. I tried to find a page that links to that PDF without any luck, so I choose share it directly.
The thematic card is all in French, but if you already know the dodos history there are not many news on it. It tells the sad story of our so much loved bird, the researches all over the years, more ornithology info about it, suggestion of books, and 3 images. One is the cute dodo above, and the other two are: Facsimile of Savery’s figure of the Dodo in his picture of the Fall of Adam in the Royal Gallery, Berlin and a dodo image from The dodo and its kindred by A.G.Melville (1848).
Primeval is a British science fiction drama television programme produced by Impossible Pictures for ITV. […] The series follows a team of scientists who investigate anomalies in time and deal with the ancient creatures that come through, although they are not always prehistoric. The fantastic creatures on the Episode 4 of the series are Dodos!
The Dodos created for this episode are super cute and for a while you can almost forget they aren’t real. The series production did a great work “recreating” an animal that few people saw and that we have few registries. Remember that almost all those old paintings of dodos were made after the dodos were already extinct. Super cute dodos, but The dodos were depicted as fat and clumsy, as those bought to by sailors for zoos were due to overfeeding in captivity; real wild dodos would have been somewhat slimmer than shown in the show. That means the dodos of the episode are based on dodo paintings made in Europe.
There is a video excerpt of that Primeval episode with scenes with those dodos on YouTube. The video quality isn’t the best, but it worth. Bellow, the video and more dodo images from that episode.
Update: the original video was removed, but for you keep enjoying the dodos, I updated the embed bellow with the BBC‘s excerpt (3:46min) of that episode.
From the PBS article about evolution by Gareth Huw Davies The Life of Birds: Birds arrived comparatively late.
Birds living on small islands are highly vulnerable to extinction. Many have become flightless in the absence of natural predators, and when man arrived, with rats, cats and other animals, the birds stand little chance. Over 90% of birds that have become extinct during historical times lived on islands.
The dodo is the tragic symbol of bird extermination. This large, flightless, turkey-sized pigeon lived on the tropical island of Mauritius. A fruit-eater, it had little reason to move fast or fly. It was easy prey for man the hunter.
The sailor Volquard Iversen, shipwrecked on Mauritius for 5 days in 1662, gave the last eye witness account. He wrote: “They were larger than geese but not able to fly. Instead of wings they had small flaps, but they could run very fast.” Not fast enough, though, for human hunters, Only fossils and a few preserved specimens remain to remind us of this tragic species.
One more nice page about dodos: Description of the Dodo bird (raphus cucullatus) from the Birds of Mauritius site. The page starts with the dodo “portrait” above and the Old Print of a Dodo:
The dodo was a flightless bird native only to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. The dodo was a flightless member of the pigeon family. Fully grown dodos weighted about 23 kg (50 pounds). Around 1505 the Portuguese became the first Europeans to discover the dodo. By 1681 it had been driven to extinction by humans and the feral dogs, pigs, rats, and monkeys introduced by Europeans to Mauritius.
It talks a bit more about its history, the physical characteristics, natural history, including food habits, reproduction, habitat and behavior; and about the economic importance for humans, including the positive point and conservation, which means extinction. The “positive” description says:
The main purpose dodos served to humans, in the brief contact between the two species, was as food. The sailors frequently fed on wildlife from Mauritius while staying there, although it has been said that dodo meat was not particularly tasty. Still, they were hunted intensely, with sailors sometimes bringing back as many as 50 at a time. What they couldn’t eat right away they would salt and bring back with them. A few attempts were made to bring back a dodo alive. When this was successful, entrepreneurs would capitalize on the unique looks of the bird and tour the dodos around Europe, displaying them in cages and demonstrating how the dodo could “eat” stones. (Strickland and Melville, 1848) (Fuller, 1987)
I don’t want to copy all the text from the page, because it’s a good reference and I want people to visit it. The page also includes links to more dodo sites, scientific information, bibliography, and links to articles, included in the site. Almost all the articles were already blogged about here. I would like also to suggest their Images of the Dodo page.
Update: I removed all the links, since the whole site is gone and the links were broken.
The Sydney Morning Herald from Reuters: Missing bird species rediscovered.
A bird species that has not been seen since the remains of one were found in India 140 years ago is alive and living in Thailand, scientists say.
The live Large-billed Reed-warbler was found by chance by ornithologist Philip Round as he was putting identification tags on wild birds at a water treatment plant near Bangkok last year.
“Although reed-warblers are generally drab and look very similar, one of the birds I caught that morning struck me as very odd, something about it didn’t quite add up; it had a long beak and short wings,” he said in a statement.
“Then, it dawned on me – I was probably holding a Large-billed Reed-warbler. I was dumbstruck, it felt as if I was holding a living dodo,” he said.
From LiveScience Bones Could Yield Dodo DNA: A newly discovered dodo skeleton has raised hopes for extracting some of the legendary extinct bird’s DNA.
Fred the dodo
Late last year, biologists looking for cave cockroaches accidentally discovered a dodo skeleton in the highlands of Mauritius.
Nicknamed “Fred” after one of its discoverers, the skeleton’s bones were badly decomposed and fragile, but there is still a good chance of extracting some dodo DNA because of the stable temperature and dry to slightly humid environment (keys to DNA preservation) of the cave.
(Scientists think Fred ended up in the bottom of the cave because he sought shelter from a violent cyclone but fell down in a deep hole and could not climb out.)
Dodo DNA would be of great scientific value because scientists know very little about the genetics of the dodo. Also, it would allow scientists to figure how long the skeleton was lying in the cave.
Keep reading on LiveScience.