Short Communication

Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 233-236

The end of the fat dodo? A new mass estimate for Raphus cucullatus

  • Delphine AngstAffiliated with
  • , Eric BuffetautAffiliated withCentre National de la Recherche Scientifique, UMR 8538, Laboratoire de Géologie de l’Ecole Normale Supérieure Email author 
  • , Anick AbourachidAffiliated withMuséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Département EGB UMR7179, équipe MorphoMotion, Pavillon d’Anatomie Comparée

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Abstract

A new mass estimate for the dodo (Raphus cucullatus), based on the lengths of the femur, tibiotarsus and tarsometatarsus, is attempted. The obtained mean mass is 10.2 kg, which is less than previous estimates based on other methods, which ranged from 10.6 to 21.1 kg, and much lower than the 50 lbs reported by a seventeenth-century eyewitness. The new estimated mass, which is similar to that of a large wild turkey, seems more realistic than previous ones and supports the hypothesis that contemporary illustrations of extremely fat dodos were either exaggerations, or based on overfed specimens. Pictures of “fat” dodos may also have been based on individuals exhibiting a display behaviour with puffed out feathers.

Keywords

Raphus cucullatus Mauritius Mass Limb bones Morphology