GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GEORGE BERNARD / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Dodo engraving. Illustration of a dodo, from An History of the Earth and Other Animated Nature, by Oliver Goldsmith (1774). The dodo is an extinct bird related to the pigeon, that lived on the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius, Rodriguez and Reunion. Roughly the size of a swan, it was heavily-built, flightless and clumsy; its name is derived from the Portuguese word for 'fool'. Having evolved free of predators and competition, it could not adapt to the encroachment of humans. Dodo numbers dwindled in the years following their discovery (1598) as sailors slaughtered them for food and domestic animals destroyed their eggs; the last dodo sighting was on Rodriguez in 1761.
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