The first ever dodo bone

George ClarkThe first ever dodo bones, a fascinating story: A team of Mauritian and European experts are about to dig up Mare aux Songes. George Clark was the first to discover dodo bones on the same site some 140 years ago by Alan Grihault.

During his spare time Clark had made numerous attempts at finding remains of the Dodo. Around 1860, Dr. Philip Ayres requested Clark to join him in a search for bones at the Fort Hendrick site, but they found nothing. Clark was puzzled by the fact that the Natural History Society had been unlucky in their constant search for bones. He believed that the best places look in were the alluvial deposits found in the mouth of rivers.

Since he was teaching in Mahébourg, he concentrated his efforts in the south-eastern part of the island. On his map, he noticed three rivers running into the sea, forming a marshy delta in an area close to where the airport is now located. He assumed that if any bones had been washed away by these rivers, they would be deposited in the mud of the delta.

During the 1860s, the first railway lines were being constructed in Mauritius, and George Clark extended his search area along railway excavations between Curepipe and Mahébourg. [..]

It must have been an exciting moment when he recorded the following in his Journal:

“Shortly before the completion of the railway [19th October 1865] I was walking along the embankment one morning when I noticed some Coolies removing peat soil from a small morass (…) I stopped and examined them as they appeared to belong to birds and we had always been on the lookout for bones of the(…) Dodo. So I filled my pocket with the most promising ones for further examination.

A Mr Clarke, the Government schoolmaster of Mahébourg, had Professor Owen’s book on the Dodo so I took the bones to him for comparison (…) The result showed that many of the bones undoubtedly belonged to the Dodo.”

Update: unfortunately the article from Lexpress is gone.

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