Information icon.svg Results for the 2023 RationalWiki Moderator Election have now been posted. Thank you for participating in this election, and congratulations to the winners!


From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A dodo.
Live, reproduce, die
Icon bioDNA.svg
Life as we know it
Divide and multiply
Great Apes

The dodo was a flightless bird related to doves and pigeons (it was cladistically a pigeon itself as it was a member of the same order, Columbidae) that was native to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. While humans hunted the dodo, the main reason why they went extinct was likely because of dogs, cats, pigs, rats, mice, and other invasive species destroying their nests.[1]

The dodo has become a byword for any creature that is doomed to extinction because it can't adapt to its environment, which is in contrast to its distant and still-living relative, the rock dove,Wikipedia which has adapted and benefited extremely well from human exploitation (and being hated by humans for its success): it went from being a European cliff-dwelling bird to a bird with cosmopolitan population on every continent except Antarctica.[2]


The dodo is famous for its reputation for being stupid. However, because it was at the top of the food chain in its own little ecosystem, it had no natural predators and thus, had no reason to fear other creatures (such as the humans who discovered the island). It wasn't stupidity that caused the downfall of the dodos, it was ignorance due to a lack of innate fear of humans and other invasive species as these birds lived in isolation free from any predators.[3]

Surprisingly, for such a famous bird, little is known of its appearance or behaviors; by the time scientists became interested, it was already extinct, a testament to the destructive power of our species.

In popular culture[edit]

Dodos are a well known extinct species within the public sphere. Because of their status as extinct animals, they have often been associated with Ice Age megafauna (mostly North American) such as saber-toothed cats and woolly mammoths (a trend which was kicked off by the 2002 animated film Ice Age). However, dodos are not Ice Age animals, as they recently appeared during the Holocene and were only found in Mauritius, far from any Ice Age animals in location and in time period (if anything, they’re closer to African animals such as elephants and lions as Mauritius is regionally part of Africa).

Another example of the dodo in popular culture would be in the 1865 novel Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, in which a character simply known as "The Dodo" appears.