The great Dodo weight debate

April 18, 2011 by Deborah Braconnier report
The great Dodo weight debate
Dodo bird (Raphus Cucullatus)

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus), a pigeon type bird that went extinct over 300 years ago is raising debate these last few months on just how slender or plump it really was. When the Dodo bird was first discovered by Dutch ships on the island of Mauritius, the drawings of the birds that were brought back showed a slender bird. However, over the years, the drawings showed a gradual plumping of the Dodo and this has been a big debate for years.

Back in the early 1990s, Andrew Kitchener from the National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh constructed a model based on bones and concluded the Dodo bird was far skinner than images had depicted them. His findings put the bird’s weight in the range of 10.5 to 17.5 kilograms.

In a new study last month published in Naturwissenschaften, a team of researchers led by Delphine Angst from the Natural History Museum in Paris looked at 75 Dodo leg bones, including 25 femurs, tibiotarsus, and tarsometatarsus which they had collected from 14 different museums. By studying these bones, they came to the conclusion that the real body mass of the Dodo was really that of about 10 kilograms.

However, in yet another study published again this month in Naturwissenschaften, another team says that Angst and her team were wrong in their analysis of the leg dimensions and that it is the femur that is more relevant. Their research suggests that the accurate would have been in a range of 9.5 to 18 kilograms.

Paleo-ornithologist Antoine Louchart believes it is important that they get these figures correct as it will help scientists trying to understand just how evolve when living on islands when it comes to an increase or decrease of size.

Explore further: Continent's oldest bird tracks are found

More information: The end of the fat dodo? A new mass estimate for Raphus cucullatus, NATURWISSENSCHAFTEN, Volume 98, Number 3, 233-236, DOI: 10.1007/s00114-010-0759-7

Related Stories

Continent's oldest bird tracks are found

November 23, 2005

University of Colorado scientists say they have found fossilized bird tracks in the Cedar Mountains near Moab, Utah, that are 125 million years old.

Seed dispersal in mauritius -- dead as a dodo?

May 7, 2008

Walking through the last rainforests on the volcanic island of Mauritius, located some 800 km east of Madagascar, one is surrounded by ghosts. Since human colonisation in the 17th century, the island has lost most of its ...

The way of the digital dodo

February 20, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The laser light glowed brilliant red, forming a moving line as it bounced information from the dodo’s bones back into the high-tech scanner sitting on a tripod on the Museum of Comparative Zoology’s (MCZ) ...

Recommended for you

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Shootist
not rated yet Apr 18, 2011
I bet it tasted like chicken.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.