STL Science Center

STL Science Center

16 August 2016

Raphus History

The history of human knowledge about Raphus cucullatus is stunningly light considering that it was an animal which lived with humans for an appreciable amount of time. There are a considerable number studies from the present day regarding different aspects of the dodo from many different viewpoints. Ecomorphology of the dodos and the ecosystem that the birds lived in are aspects of the life histories of these animals that are highly studied. The ecomorphology paper also addresses other birds like the Mascarene Solitaire. Papers on the dodo often discuss pairs of extinct animals. One such paper talks about the life history of the dodo and the penguins of Mauritius. Among all of the papers, some of the most interesting, in my opinion, discuss the shape and size of the dodo. The general impression of the dodo is one of a fat and lazy bird. However, recent studies question not only the mass of the dodo, but also the general characteristics of body shape and size. The question of intelligence or stupidity is not yet answered, though studies of endocasts, often used in discussing fossil hominoid taxa intelligence, have been made and studied. The resulting descriptions of the shape and sizes of dodo brains have not been able to conclusively say much, but they have resulted in a net gain of knowledge about the birds.

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