, Volume 98, Issue 4, pp 357-358
Date: 05 Mar 2011

The dodo was not so slim: leg dimensions and scaling to body mass

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Recently Angst et al. (2011) proposed a new mean body mass estimate for the dodo (Raphus cucullatus), of Mauritius Island, 10.2 kg, which is at the lower end of previous estimated intervals such as Kitchener's (1993). We question both their methods and results and propose a revised estimated interval.

Angst et al. (2011) used the lengths of the hindlimb three long bones and regression equations, based on a sample of living birds, between these lengths and body mass (Zeffer et al. 2003). But contra Angst et al. (2011), tibiotarsus and tarsometatarsus lengths cannot be used to estimate body mass. This is because different bird species of the same weight can show considerable differences in the lengths of these two bones, hence in leg length, across families and orders, generally in adaptation to particular locomotory habits (terrestriality, running, perching, aeriality, swimming, wading …), mode of predation (e.g. ornithophagy) and others, with particular causes in insular contexts (e.g. ...

We dedicate this short note to Bradley C. Livezey, ornithologist devoted to research on avian evolution and ecomorphology–which included studies on the dodo and solitaire–who died prematurely in February 2011.
This is a comment on Angst et al. (2011) The end of the fat dodo? A new mass estimate for Raphus cucullatus. Naturwissenschaften 98: 233–236.