Dodo - The Extinct Bird
You may have probably heard the expression "As Dumb As A Dodo" and wondered what a Dodo is. The Dodo was (yes, it no longer exists) a simple, clumsy-looking, but a useful bird.
The dodo is a now-extinct bird that inhabited the islands of Mauritius. When the Portugese sailors first landed on these islands they found some fat, slow birds, who were very trusting and friendly. They could be caught very easily and therefore were named as Dodo meaning "a simpleton" in Portugese.
You may have probably heard the expression "As Dumb As A Dodo" and wondered what a Dodo is. The Dodo was a simple, clumsy-looking, but a useful bird. The dodo is a now-extinct bird that inhabited the islands of Mauritius. When the Portugese sailors first landed on these islands they found some fat, slow birds, who were very trusting and friendly. They could be caught very easily and therefore were named as Dodo meaning "a simpleton" in Portugese. This expression is now used to describe a person who is a bit dumb and slow on uptake.
The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about a meter (3 feet) tall, weighing about 20 kilograms, a bit similar looking to turkeys. These birds mainly ate fruits and built nests on the ground.
By 1681, dodos had become extinct. This bird is a perfect example of extinction due to direct human activity. It became extinct not only due to the Portugese sailors who could easily catch them for meat, but also the pigs and dogs they had brought along with them hunted dodos with great ease.
An artist's impression of the dodo shows it to be fat, greyish bird with yellow legs and about 9 inches long hooked beak.
The complete extinction of the dodos also gave rise to the phrases "dead as a dodo" meaning undoubtedly and unquestionably dead. The second phrase "to go the way of the dodo" meaning to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past.
After the extinction of dodo, it was noticed that that the growth and distribution of the Mauritian calvaria (also called Tambalacoque; Latin name: Sideroxylon grandiflorum) tree was greatly affected. The reason for it is said that the dodos ate the fruits of and after digesting them, helped in the dispersal of the calvaria seeds. Unfortunately, this was discovered only about 250 years after the extinction of dodo. Turkeys were then used as alternatives to spreading calvaria seeds; after which these trees have started to recover.
Since decades, dodo has now become a significant symbol of man's harmful impact on the environment and his thoughtlessness and ignorance of understanding the fragil and delicate interdependence of nature. The dodo is used by many environmental organizations that promote the protection of endangered species, such as the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Jersey Zoological Park, founded by Gerald Durrell.
Dodo also appears as a hilarious character in Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland. He appears in the chapters 2 and 3; in which in order to get dry after a swim, the Dodo proposes that everyone run a Caucus race — where the participants run in patterns of any shape, starting and leaving off whenever they like, so that everyone wins. At the end of the race, dodo declares that everyone has won and that Alice will distribute prizes. Alice distributes comfits from her pocket to all as prizes. However this leaves no prize for herself. The Dodo inquires what else she has in her pocket. As she has only a thimble, the Dodo requests it from her and then awards it to Alice as her prize.
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