An introduction to the reasons and casues of the exctinction of the dod

Essay by MrMysteryHigh School, 10th gradeA+, October 2004

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The dodo was a fat flightless bird that was discovered by Spanish sailors on the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean at about 1600. It was supposedly extinct in 1662 (although many suggest it could have been around up to 30 years later). Such a rapid extinction can only have been caused by one thing: human intervention.

The Dodo's stubby wings and heavy, ungainly body tell us that the bird was flightless. Moreover, its breastbone is too small to support the huge pectoral muscles a bird this size would need to fly. Yet scientists believe that the Dodo evolved from a bird capable of flight into a flightless one. When an ancestor of the Dodo landed on Mauritius, it found a habitat with plenty of food and no predators. It therefore did not need to fly, and, as flying takes a great deal of energy, it was more efficient for the bird to remain on the ground.

Eventually, the flightless Dodo evolved not needing to be able to escape predators or fly. This left it in a bad position when the Spaniards came along: they were initially eaten but this was not a major cause as this was limited (the meat was apparently disgusting). More important was the destruction of their forest habitat by the settlers for farm-animals and most importantly the animals which the Europeans brought to the Island: most notably pigs and rats (which came on the ships). Whilst the other farm animals like sheep were not so harmful, pigs definitely were. They did significant foraging destroying the dodo's nests and food supplies often, as well as frightening them off and distressing them. Rats were even more harmful: they fed on the dodo's eggs. Rats like eating birds' eggs and since there was no need for...