What happened to the last dodo bird

What happened to the Dodo Bird?

The dodo was a species of bird that became extinct in the mid-20th century. It was originally mistaken for a close relative of several different birds, including the albatross, vulture, and ostrich. Scientists later found that the dodo bird belonged to the same family as pigeons and doves (the Columbidae family).

This bird grew to about 3 in height and weighed between 23 and 39 pounds. Men were taller than women. It was an endemic species and could only be found on Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean. Neither photography nor full skeleton exist of this flightless bird, but researchers believe it was covered in gray to brown colored feathers. Its head is believed to be bald and with extra plumage on its tail. The dodo bird is perhaps best recognized by the large, bulbous tip of its hooked bill.

How did the dodo bird become extinct?

The dodo bird is often used as a symbol of the permanent damage humans can have on the environment and animal survival rates. Its iconic status as a symbol of species extinction is due to how quickly this species became extinct after it was discovered by European explorers. In a period of only about 100 years the dodo bird ceased to exist in the wild. Several theories attempt to explain exactly how the dodo bird became extinct and a number of events have been attributed to its unfortunate and quick death. Below are some of the factors that contributed to the dodo bird extinction.

hunt

Perhaps the most commonly cited reason the dodo bird went extinct is that it was hunted to extinction. At the heart of this theory is the fact that this bird wasn't afraid of humans when the two first made contact. This fearlessness was the result of a lack of natural enemies across the island of Mauritius. The dodo bird had not learned to be afraid of any other species and met European explorers with more curiosity than fear. This behavior, combined with its flightless status, made the dodo bird an easy target for human hunters and quickly became a staple in the diet of European sailors. Researchers now claim that while this is a valid factor, it is oversimplifying the path to extinction.

Invasive species

Scientists now believe that the introduction of alien species to the island was the biggest impact European seafarers had. These individuals brought a number of invasive species with them, including rats, cats, pigs, and dogs. When these newly introduced animals roamed free across the island, they reproduced on a large scale and began hunting local food sources. One of these food sources was the dodo bird egg, which lay on the ground and was easy to find. Since these eggs were an important food source for invasive species, this negatively impacted the dodo bird's ability to replenish its population. Mother Dodo birds only lay 1 egg at a time. Both adults and young people were killed to feed both people and animals. The result was detrimental to the dodo bird's ability to survive.

habitat loss

Not only was this species of bird hunted and its eggs cleared, but its natural habitat was also threatened. When it was first discovered, the island had little value to European sailors. It was often used as a stopover on long journeys and was even considered cursed by some explorers because of a large number of shipwrecks in the area. Ultimately, however, Mauritius became an important source of ebony, which was harvested by everyone who went ashore. During the second attempt at settlement by the Dutch, the export of ebony became the main economic activity on the island. An attempt to convert the island into an agricultural plantation resulted in the destruction of more native plant species, which were replaced by sugar cane plants. This severe deforestation destroyed the natural habitat of the dodo bird, leaving little protection from the invading predators.

Natural disasters

Although the dodo bird survived a variety of natural disasters on the island, some of these events have severely decimated the dodo population. In 2005, researchers found evidence that large numbers of dodo birds were killed during a flash flood event. This disaster, combined with the factors mentioned earlier, made it even less likely that the species could survive.

Future bird extinctions

The dodo bird isn't the only species of bird that will become extinct due to human intervention. In fact, scientists have studied the life and population patterns of more than 9,700 bird species and one other 129 extinct bird species to understand what the future holds for birds. Based on their research, they predict that between 10% and 14% of all bird species living today will become extinct by 2100. In addition, 25% of current bird species are expected to have become extinct in the wild (also known as functionally extinct) at the same time. At this point, another 15% is critically endangered.

Bird species are a key component of a healthy environment by helping to maintain the population size of other plant and animal species. For example, birds consume significant numbers of insects every day, which helps ensure insect populations are preserved and prevents them from being superior to other species of plants and animals. In addition, birds distribute seeds by eating fruits and other plants, fertilize soil by making guano, prevent disease spreading by consuming other animal carcasses, and pollinating flowers and other plants by consuming nectar. In fact, some plants rely on birds for reproductive purposes. Because of their role in maintaining delicate environmental balances, bird population trends are viewed as important environmental indicators that provide a window into the health of habitats around the world.

Factors such as global climate change, increased habitat loss, unsustainable fishing practices, pollution, pesticide use, growing human populations, urbanization and invasive plant and animal species continue to threaten existing bird species. These researchers predict that even if humans take combined global action against these threats now, the world will lose at least 700 species of birds by 2100.


Author: Charlotte Johnston

Charlotte Johnston is a 25 year old journalist. Evangelist of Lifelong Bacon. Communicator. Freelance thinker. Beer fanatic. Player. Zombie lover. Alcohol specialist.