Bone histology sheds new light on the ecology of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus, Aves, Columbiformes)

Delphine Angst, A Chinsamy, Lorna Steel, Julian Hume

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Abstract

The dodo, Raphus cucullatus, a flightless pigeon endemic to Mauritius, became extinct during the 17th century due to anthropogenic activities. Although it was contemporaneous with humans for almost a century, little was recorded about its ecology. Here we present new aspects of the life history of the dodo based on our analysis of its bone histology. We propose that the dodo bred around August and that the rapid growth of the chicks enabled them to reach a robust size before the austral summer or cyclone season. Histological evidence of molting suggests that after summer had passed, molt began in the adults that had just bred; the timing of molt derived from bone histology is also corroborated by historical descriptions of the dodo by mariners. This research represents the only bone histology analysis of the dodo and provides an unprecedented insight into the life history of this iconic bird.
Original languageEnglish
Article number7993
JournalScientific Reports
Volume7
Early online date24 Aug 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2017

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