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 (44 lb), living on fruit, and nesting on the ground.
The dodo has been extinct since the mid-to-late 17th century.It is commonly used as the archetype of an extinct species because its extinction occurred during recorded human history and was directly attributable to human activity.
The phrase "dead as a dodo" means undoubtedly and unquestionably dead, whilst the phrase "to go the way of the dodo" means to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past.
As with many animals that have evolved in isolation from significant predators, the dodo was entirely fearless of people, and this, in combination with its flightlessness, made it easy prey for humans.However, journals are full of reports regarding the bad taste and tough meat of the dodo, while other local species such as the Red Rail were praised for their taste. When humans first arrived on Mauritius, they also brought with them other animals that had not existed on the island before, including dogs, pigs, cats, rats, and Crab-eating Macaques, which plundered the dodo nests, while humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes;currently, the impact these animals—especially the pigs and macaques—had on the dodo population is considered to have been more severe than that of hunting. The 2005 expedition's finds are apparently of animals killed by a flash flood; such mass mortalities would have further jeopardized a species already in danger of becoming extinct.
Although there are scattered reports of mass killings of dodos for provisioning of ships, archaeological investigations have hitherto found scant evidence of human predation on these birds. Some bones of at least two dodos were found in caves at Baie du Cap which were used as shelters by fugitive slaves and convicts in the 17th century, but due to their isolation in high, broken terrain, were not easily accessible to dodos naturally.
There is some controversy surrounding the extinction date of the dodo. Roberts & Solow state that "the extinction of the Dodo is commonly dated to the last confirmed sighting in 1662, reported by shipwrecked mariner Volkert Evertsz" (Evertszoon), but many other sources suggest the more conjectural date of 1681. Roberts & Solow point out that because the sighting prior to 1662 was in 1638, the dodo was likely already very rare by the 1660s, and thus a disputed report from 1674 cannot be dismissed out-of-hand.Statistical analysis of the hunting records of Isaac Johannes Lamotius give a new estimated extinction date of 1693, with a 95% confidence interval of 1688 to 1715. Considering more circumstantial evidence such as travelers' reports and the lack of good reports after 1689,it is likely that the dodo became extinct before 1700; the last Dodo died a little more than a century after the species' discovery in 1581.
Few took particular notice of the extinct bird. By the early 19th century it seemed altogether too strange a creature, and was believed by many to be a myth. With the discovery of the first batch of dodo bones in the Mauritian swamp, the Mare aux Songes, and the reports written about them by George Clarke, government schoolmaster at Mahébourg, from 1865 on,interest in the bird was rekindled. In the same year in which Clarke started to publish his reports, the newly vindicated bird was featured as a character in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. With the popularity of the book, the dodo became a well-known and easily recognizable icon of extinction.