In the past 10,000 years species of animals have been going extinct at a phenomenal rate. This has been called the Sixth Extinction, or the Holocene Extinction Event. The Dodo bird is one of the symbols of this extinction which is pretty much blamed on growing human activity and the spread of the human population. Let us learn more about the factors that contributed to the demise of the dodo bird.
Description of the Dodo Bird
The dodo bird stood just over 3.3 feet tall (1 meter) and weighed about 44 pounds (20 kg). They lived on the island of Mauritius (located to the east of Madagascar). They were flightless and laid single eggs in their nests on the ground. They ate fruit and were very likely gray in color. Other than that very little is known to be certain as they were never properly studied while alive, and no proper specimens were preserved, all we have to go by is a few drawings and bones.
Extinction of the Dodo Bird
The dodo birds were first discovered in the late 1500's, they were extinct by 1681. Many people blame sailors for driving the dodo bird to extinction, but it was not that simple.
Prior to the arrival of people to the island of Mauritius, the dodo birds had a rather good life. They had no mammal predators, and as such, no threats to their lives so they were not afraid of humans.
The dodo birds were easy to hunt, and undoubtedly many were hunted, but some reports show their meat was not particularly good. While we cannot discount hunting as a contributing factor to the demise of this bird, it was not the “nail in the coffin” so to speak.
Human activity on the island was destroying habitat and causing stress to a species that had never experienced it before. Humans brought with them invasive species; cats, dogs, and pigs. Possibly worst of all, humans brought a primate; the crab-eating macaque, who quickly found the dodo eggs to their liking. The cats, dogs, and pigs also took their toll on the dodos, probably eating eggs as well as the young birds.
Eventually the species reached a point where it could not recover. The dodo bird has gone down in history as being the first species that forced humans to be consciously aware of their role in species extinction.