The end of the fat dodo? A new mass estimate for Raphus cucullatus
- 398 Downloads
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.
KeywordsRaphus cucullatus Mauritius Mass Limb bones Morphology
Thanks to all those who provided measurements or information about specimens in their care: Ernst Bauernfeind (Vienna), Georges Lenglet (Brussels), Majken Them Tøttrup and Jon Fjeldså (Copenhagen), Jeremy M. Adams (Brighton), Matt Lowe (Cambridge, UK), Sandra Chapman and Joanne Cooper (London), Joël Clary and Didier Berthet (Lyon), James P. Dean (Washington, D.C.), Paul R. Sweet and Peter Capainolo (New York), Scott V. Edwards and Jeremiah Trimble (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Peter Howlett (Cardiff), Graham Avery (Capetown), Kenneth F. Rijsdijk (Leyden), Jérôme Tabouelle (Elbeuf), Ronan Allain, Claire Sagne and Anne Préviato (Paris), Julian Pender Hume (Tring). We thank Jonathan Barnoud for his help with statistics, and four anonymous reviewers for their comments on the original MS.
- Cheke A, Hume JP (2008) Lost land of the dodo. T & AD Poyser, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Folch A (1992) Rheidae (rheas). In: del Hoyo J, Elliott A, Saragatal J (eds) Handbook of the birds of the world, vol 1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, pp 84–89Google Scholar
- Herbert T (1634) A relation of some yeares’ travaile, begunne Anno 1626, into Afrique and the greater Asia, especially the territories of the Persian Monarchie, and some parts of the Oriental Indies and Isles adiacent. W Stansby & J Bloome, London.Google Scholar
- Lüttschwager J (1961) Die Drontevögel. Die Neue Brehm-Bücherei, A. ZiemsenVerlag, Wittenberg LutherstadtGoogle Scholar
- Oudemans AC (1917) Dodo-studien. Verhand Koninkl Akad Wetensch Amsterdam 19:1–140Google Scholar
- Porter WF (1994) Meleagrididae (turkeys). In: del Hoyo J, Elliott A, Saragatal J (eds) Handbook of the birds of the world, vol 2. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, pp 364–375Google Scholar
- Strickland HE, Melville AG (1848) The dodo and its kindred. Reeve, Benham & Reeve, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Ziswiler V (1996) Der Dodo. Fantasien und Fakten zu einem verschwundenen Vogel. Zoologisches Museum der Universität Zürich, ZürichGoogle Scholar