7 Fascinating Facts About Dodos
1. Dodos couldn’t fly because they were in paradise
After living happily on an island for so long without the threat of predators, dodos lost their ability to fly. That’s why they only ever lived on the island of Mauritius and nowhere else in the world.
Mauritius was paradise for a dodo; they didn’t need to worry about bad weather, a lack of food or anyone trying to eat them. In fact, dodos felt so safe on the island that they built their nests down on the ground.
2. Dodos enjoyed a delicious diet of fruit, shellfish and… stones
Dodos had big appetites and were nicely plump as a result. They would eat anything tasty that could be found on the ground including seeds, bulbs, nuts, fallen fruit and stones (yes, stones as in hard rocks found on the ground). The ‘gizzard stones’ would help the large birds with their digestion by grinding up the food in their stomachs.
Scientists also think dodos probably ate crabs and shellfish that washed up on the beach for a tasty treat.
3. Dodos could run like the wind
Dodos may have been a little portly and completely flightless but they could actually run pretty quickly, which would have been useful when they went crab catching.
Scientists came to this conclusion when looking at the birds’ skeletal structure and the size of their legs.
4. The dodo’s love-life is still a mystery
Everything we know about the dodo comes from the eye-witness accounts of sailors and scientific studies of a few remaining skeletons. We don’t have much information about how they lived and have even less information about how they loved; their mating habits remain a mystery to this day.
5. Sailors, pigs and dogs were responsible for their extinction
In 1598 Dutch sailors arrived on the island of Mauritius, and paradise was lost for the poor dodos. Sailors hunted the birds for food and found them incredibly easy to catch because they had no natural defence against predators.
The sailors brought with them dogs, cats, pigs and stow away rats who also preyed on the birds and ate their eggs. By 1688, the dodos were all gone.
6. Dodos weren’t actually stupid, just curious.
Dodos have a reputation for being a bit daft because sailors found them so easy to catch, but the sad fact is they were just curious.
They’d never dealt with predators before so they had no reason to believe the sailors would harm them. That’s why, when the sailors came to the island, the birds walked right up to their visitors to greet them.
7. Dodos may be gone, but their legacy lives on
Recently a scientist noticed that a certain type of tree, the ‘tambalacoque’, was mysteriously dying out in the island of Mauritius.
It turns out that dodos used to eat the fruit of the tambalacoque, and it was only by passing through the bird’s digestive system that the seeds could flourish and grow. The trees only have a 300 year life span and without the help of the dodos, the old trees were dying without any younger trees to replace them.
Luckily the scientist realised this was happening just in the nick of time and now turkeys are used to help the seeds grow because they have a similar digestive system.
The trees – which are all still very young saplings – are now known as Dodo Trees, as a tribute to the feathery friends they lost 300 years ago.