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Dodos

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Frederick The Monk
59712.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:23 am Reply with quote

Question: Why did the dodo die out?

Forfeits: Humans ate them all.

Answer: The animals humans brought with them to Mauritius plundered their nests.

Notes: The name dodo comes from the archaic Portuguese word doudo, meaning "simpleton", doido in modern Portuguese meaning fool or mad. (The island was first visited by the Portuguese in 1505, but the Dutch were the first permanent settlers on the island - there was no native population before that.) The dodo manages an unenviable double distinction in that it is a byword for two qualities: being dead and being stupid (it was called Didus ineptus by Linnaeus).

There is a persistent myth that Dodos were eaten as food for the long voyages between the Cape of Good Hope and Asia, but neither historical nor archeological findings corroborate this. Dodos were hardly ever eaten by the Portuguese, who found the birds hard to eat and very messy. Dutch records concur. The Dutch settlers called it the Walgvogel ("disgusting bird") for the unpleasant taste and texture of the meat. No Dodo bones have been found in the old middens of the Dutch fort Frederik Hendrik.

However, when humans first arrived on Mauritius, they also brought with them other animals that had not existed on the island before, including dogs, pigs, rats and monkeys, which plundered the Dodo nests, while humans destroyed the forests where they made their homes.

In 1755, the director of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford decided that their specimen was too smelly to keep and threw it on a bonfire. It was the only specimen in existence, and a passing employee tried to rescue it, but could only save its head and part of one limb.

The dodo remained in relative obscurity until the publication of Alice in Wonderland in 1865 nobody gave a rat's ass about it; Dodgson must have encountered i the Ashmolean specimen (which is known as the 'Alice in Wonderland Specimen') and featured it in his Caucus Race, and it became a familar figure as a consequence of Tenniel's drawings. The dodo is supposed to have represented Dodgson himself.

The Dodo appears on the Coat of arms of Mauritius.

Links to:

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodo
http://www.oum.ox.ac.uk/dodo.htm
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4556928.stm

Pictures/Props:http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/bb/Igdodo.jpg

Researcher:


Last edited by Frederick The Monk on Fri Mar 31, 2006 9:56 am; edited 1 time in total

 
Flash
59868.  Tue Mar 14, 2006 3:56 pm Reply with quote

There's a thread in the outer regions with a few bits & pieces, including this from Jenny:

Quote:
In 1755, the director of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford decided that their specimen was too smelly to keep and threw it on a bonfire. It was the only specimen in existence, and a passing employee tried to rescue it, but could only save its head and part of one limb.

All we know about the dodo derives from these remains, a handful of descriptions, three or four oil paintings and a few bones. We know more about some dinosaurs than we do about dodos.


Thread starts at post 46048.

 
MatC
59923.  Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:31 am Reply with quote

That’s extraordinary. It sounds as if there is so little direct evidence of their existence, that in centuries to come they could well be transferred from the zoological to the crypto-zoological category. I wonder if it’s possible to compare dodos to something like the yeti (or some other well-known but not generally accepted wild thang, extant or extinct) and say that there is less evidence for the former than the for the latter? Would “a handful of descriptions, three or four oil paintings and a few bones,” and oral history, for instance, be enough to establish the undisputed existence of a new species if discovered today?

 
Gray
59928.  Wed Mar 15, 2006 5:48 am Reply with quote

Suerly there must be lots of bones around still on Mauritius? I'm sure there is some Dodo DNA around the place - this is what they used to measure its 'genetic distance' from pigeons.

Yes, here we go:
Quote:
Molecular analysis of DNA retrieved from a dodo specimen at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, England, confirms that the bird belongs firmly in the middle of the pigeon tree in evolutionary terms, reports a study published in the March 1 issue of the journal Science.


http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/02/0227_0228_dodo.html

According to Wikipedia,:
Quote:
The samples were taken from the only surviving Dodo specimen with soft tissues remaining - the 300 year old 'Alice in Wonderland' specimen in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.


The Rodrigues Solitaire looks rather similar, unsurprisingly.

 
Flash
59933.  Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:08 am Reply with quote

The dodo manages an unenviable double distinction in that it is a byword for two qualities: being dead and being stupid (it was called Didus ineptus by Linnaeus).

From the time of its extinction sometime before 1700 until the publication of Alice in Wonderland in 1865 nobody gave a rat's ass about it; Dodgson must have encountered it in the Ashmolean (I'm guessing) and featured it in his Caucus Race, and it became a familar figure as a consequence of Tenniel's drawings. As far as I can make out the term 'dead as a dodo' must date from this time, though I haven't found the first citation.

The dodo is supposed to have represented Dodgson himself.

Jenny's post is out of date in that a large cache of dodo bones were found in Mauritius last December. It would be nice if we could find out whether they have changed our understanding of the bird in some unexpected way.

This is curious:
Quote:
In 1973, scientists discovered that a species of tree on Mauritius, the dodo tree ... was dying out. There were only 13 specimens reported left, and all of them were about 300 years old, dating from the time when the last Dodo was killed. It was discovered* that the Dodos ate the seeds of the tree, and only by passing through the digestive tract of the Dodo did the seeds become active and start to grow. After a while, it was discovered that the same effect could be accomplished by letting turkeys eat the seeds. The tree species has been saved. However, more recent research suggests that young specimens were simply overlooked and that it probably was the extinct Broad-billed Parrot Lophopsittacus mauritianus rather than Dodos which were chiefly responsible for spreading the seeds.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dodo

* actually: suggested by Stanley Temple, but now disputed. The tree is also called the tambalacoque, and this suggestion is known as 'Temple's dodo-tambalacoque hypothesis'.

In any case:
Quote:
The dodo tree is valued on Mauritius for its timber; the foresters now abrade the seeds by hand in order to get them to sprout, rather than feeding them to turkeys.


Quote:
The Widespread Misconception that the Tambalacoque or Calvaria Tree Absolutely Required the Dodo Bird for its Seeds to Germinate
University of Wisconsin ornithologist Stanley Temple (1977) hypothesized that the extinction of the dodo bird (Raphus cucullatus) by 1681 was responsible for the near extinction of the tambalacoque or calvaria tree ... Dodo and tambalacoque were endemic to the small island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Temple proposed that dodo and tambalacoque represented an obligation animal-plant mutualism in which the tambalacoque seeds had to pass through the dodo digestive system before they could germinate. ...

Temple published in a very prestigious journal that gave his appealing hypothesis added credibility and widespread attention. The hypothesis has been widely adopted as fact by many biology books and webpages as an example of an obligate animal-plant mutualism. However, several scientists have rebutted Temple's hypothesis (Hershey 2000, Horn 1978, Owadally 1979, Witmer and Cheke 1991). ...

Temple (1977) is an excellent paper for college botany students to critically evaluate because it contained numerous obvious errors that reviewers or editors of the manuscript should have recognized, Either the manuscript should not have been published, or Temple should have been required to do the key measurements and experiments needed to actually test his hypothesis. ... Nonbotanists, such as ornithologist Temple, should be very careful when dealing with plant topics. ...

Appealing stories such as the dodo-tambalacoque myth often grow more fantastic over time. The story was featured as fact on PBS television's 1999 episode "The Seedy Side of Plants"... The story has also been used to promote creationism ... http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-081.htm. Other websites have exaggerated the story by claiming that Temple's use of turkeys to treat the seeds has been used to save the tree from extinction.... Even if the hard endocarp had to be worn down to get the seeds to germinate, it is much more easily accomplished in other ways. Seeds with hard seed coats are routinely treated with acid or mechanically scarified using sandpaper, a gem tumbler or cracking the endocarp with a vise (Hartmann and Kester 1975). There is no need to force-feed them to turkeys.

http://www.botany.org/PlantScienceBulletin/psb-2004-50-4.php#Dodo

I wonder if there's a trap of a rather deep and cunning sort to be laid here for Rory, if he's on?

 
Flash
61321.  Tue Mar 21, 2006 5:35 pm Reply with quote

I have a question the rhythm of which appeals to me, but I have nothing interesting by way of answer. Can anyone help? It's either:

What did the dodo do that the dik-dik didn't?

or

What did the dik-dik do that the dodo didn't?

Other than the fact that it's a tiny tiny antelope (a little larger than a hare) I can't find anything interesting about the dik-dik (I refuse to be interested in its slightly odd habits with regard to defecation - the female leaves some droppings and then the male does likewise, on top of them, but that's not interesting, it's just silly) and in particular I can't find anything which links them to dodos.

Anyone?

 
Gray
61363.  Wed Mar 22, 2006 4:29 am Reply with quote

Dikdiks have preorbital glands - large black holes in front of their eyes which they pierce with bits of grass, covering them in a musky substance that marks territory. I have pictures...

They are also very hard to see because they are extremely timid (that would set it apart from dodoes, which had no natural fear of humans, I suppose).

 
Frederick The Monk
61366.  Wed Mar 22, 2006 4:51 am Reply with quote

So the answer to "what did the dikdik do that the dodo didn't?" is 'run away'.

 
Flash
61372.  Wed Mar 22, 2006 5:31 am Reply with quote

I wonder if we could get hold of a stuffed dik-dik from somewhere? Then maybe a possible sequence is something like:

Dicks (Moby, Turpin, etc)
What's this? (a dik-dik)
Dik-diks are widespread, dodos the contrary, so
What do dik-diks do that dodos didn't? (run away, hide)
Other stuff about dodos
And so to pigeons / doves (Dicken Medal, Skinner's kamikaze pigeons)

If we can't get a stuffed one then the sequence still works with a picture, but I like the idea of Stephen putting an antelope on his desk, and this would alleviate the problem that there isn't much to say about dik-diks.

 
Gray
61397.  Wed Mar 22, 2006 7:42 am Reply with quote

Dikdiks are the smallest antelopes too, so he probably could hide it underneath.

Or we could have it pulled on from the side with a string...

 
Frederick The Monk
61769.  Fri Mar 24, 2006 12:19 pm Reply with quote

Get Stuffed in Islington hire out all sorts of dead animals for film shoots. They can be found here.

 
MatC
62038.  Mon Mar 27, 2006 6:21 am Reply with quote

“Dotterel” is Middle English; related to “dote” and “dotage,” it means a “stupid fellow, a dupe” (Chambers).

It is also the common name of a bird, a relative of the plover. The bird was astonishingly easy to catch (they could be “netted wholesale”), due to its bizarrely trusting nature, hence the insulting name.

(Another word for a dupe, of course, is a gull.)

Quote:
“The Dotterel Inn was built in 1820. A Dotterel is a bird rather like a plover which was once hunted for sport in this area [Yorkshire wolds]. However, it has now become extinct, perhaps because it was apparently rather stupid, and allowed people to come close enough to catch it.”


Quote:
“A European bird of the Plover family (Eudromias, or Charadrius, morinellus). It is tame and easily taken, and is popularly believed to imitate the movements of the fowler.
“In catching of dotterels we see how the foolish bird playeth the ape in gestures.” - Bacon.”

S:
www.birdsofbritain.co.uk/features/bird-names.htm
www.bjcurtis.force9.co.uk/html/birds_5.html
www.bootlegbooks.com/Reference/Webster/data/477.html
www.ba-education.demon.co.uk/for/travel/guide/wold3a.html
www.birdsofbritain.co.uk/bird-guide/dotterel.htm

 
Frederick The Monk
63083.  Fri Mar 31, 2006 11:27 am Reply with quote

Updated 31/03/06

 

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