, Volume 99, Issue 3, pp 177–184 | Cite as

Dodo remains from an in situ context from Mare aux Songes, Mauritius

  • Hanneke J. M. MeijerEmail author
  • Arike Gill
  • Perry G. B. de Louw
  • Lars W. Van Den Hoek Ostende
  • Julian P. Hume
  • Kenneth F. Rijsdijk
Original Paper


Since 2005, excavations at Mare aux Songes, Mauritius, have revealed the presence of a very rich, ∼4,200-year-old fossil bone bed including dodo (Raphus cucullatus) bones and bone fragments. The recently excavated dodo assemblage comprises at least 17 individuals and is characterised by the presence of small and fragile skeletal elements, a dominance of leg elements and an absence of juveniles. The hydrology of the area suggests that dodos, like many other species, were probably lured to Mare aux Songes by the presence of freshwater during times of drought. The most likely scenario for the origin of the fossil deposit is that animals became trapped in the sediment in repeated miring events, which would favour the conservation of hindlimbs. Such a scenario is fully in accordance with the taphonomic characteristics of the bone assemblage.


Raphus cucullatus Insular ecosystem Mare aux Songes Mauritius Taphonomy 



We are very grateful to C. Foo Kune, former CEO of Mon Trésor Mon Désert Sugar Estate (now Omnicane), and his staff for their hospitality and invaluable support in the field. The excavation would not have been possible without the technical supervision by R. Floore. We thank A. Janoo (National Heritage Fund), C. Baider, F.B.V. Florens, A. Grihault, J. de Vos and J. Brinkkemper for their support in the field and valuable discussions regarding the extinct and extant Mauritian ecosystem. I. Prins provided invaluable logistic support. Fieldwork and research was funded by Omnicane, TNO—the Geological Survey of the Netherland, the Treub Foundation for Research in the Tropics, World Wildlife Fund—The Netherlands, Deltares, Mauritius Museums Council, Hollandia Archaeology, Taylor Smith Group (Mauritius), Air Mauritius, Mauritius Sugar Industry Research Institute and the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript. We thank S. Olson for insightful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript, and A. Cheke for help on correct citation details. Four anonymous reviewers provided their constructive input.

Supplementary material

114_2012_882_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (88 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 88 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanneke J. M. Meijer
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Arike Gill
    • 2
  • Perry G. B. de Louw
    • 3
  • Lars W. Van Den Hoek Ostende
    • 2
  • Julian P. Hume
    • 4
  • Kenneth F. Rijsdijk
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeologyNetherlands Centre for Biodiversity NaturalisLeidenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Deltares, Department Soil and GroundwaterUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Bird Group, Department of ZoologyNatural History Museum at TringHertsUK
  5. 5.Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Computational Bio- and Physical GeographyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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