The Dodo of Mauritius

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The Dodo of Mauritius

The dodo is as emblematic in Mauritius as the panda is in China or the kangaroo in Australia. The Dodo (scientific name: Raphus cucullatus) - is a short-winged winged animal that was known in the late 1500s or mid 1600s when the Dutch came to Mauritius. They called him Walgh Vogel (foul-smelling feathered creature) because of the way in which, despite the fact that he cooked for a while, just the breast was delicious. In the middle of the 17th century, the newcomer, a member of the pigeon family, was at that time wiped out because of the concentration of hunters and the demolition of their land by the rats and pigs introduced by the invaders.

In 2005, a group of Dutch-Mauritian researchers discovered the remains of the Horse aux Songes dodo, a freshwater lake formed as a result of the ascent to ocean level 4,000 years ago. The area is considered to be a mass grave of Mauritian fauna and greenery. The exhumation group discovered more than 8000 dodo bones, turtles, fossilised plant material, snail shells and insect remains.

This disclosure prompted numerous cross-examinations. It is still an enigma to know how this mass grave was formed and why so many different creatures and dead plants were moved into this small area, framing half a metre thick of fossil convergence. Dating of the bones based on radioactive cells has given indications that the creatures passed on within a few centuries, but researchers cannot explain why. Ongoing geographical and paleontological research conducted by the Dodo Exploration Program should lead to a better understanding of the mystery, but for the moment the wait is palpable.

The lost world... The Dodo

Very few people know it but the Dodo is not the only one to have disappeared from the Republic of Mauritius. This animal with a wing too short to fly away carrying too much meat which the Dutch were happy to devour is the highlight of the exhibition hall. The skeleton of the Dodo, collected by E. Thirioux, a designer and novice gatherer, in 1900, is special because in each of the bones come from an individual feathered creature. The annihilation of the Dodo, within 80 long periods of its revelation, led man to recognise unexpectedly that it could activate the elimination of plants and creatures. The best established example in the historic centre is the Mauritian Dutch pigeon which was murdered in 1826. A skeleton of the Rodrigues Solitaire, found in Caverne Patate in 1900, is also on display in this exhibition. Other compelling logical fortunes in the exhibition hall are the Romanesque and deficient skeletons of the Mauritian Red Rail, the Mauritian reptile mammoth (the largest reptile on the planet) and a cured example of the Round Island collapse, Tunneling Boa.

Today, a copy of the dodo is on display at the Museum of Natural History in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius.

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