The dodo bird, historically, has been viewed as a rather plump bird, weighing approximately 20-23 kilograms. Grey in colour, the dodo is quite distinct from the solitaire (a relative of the dodo which lived on the island of Reunion.) The dodo had a large, hooked beak, and a plume of white feathers adorned the rear of the dodo. What distinguishes the dodo from many other birds is not just its size, but that it was flightless. Despite its large build, the dodo had small, weak wings which could not lift it into the air. Thus it was easy prey to the Portuguese invaders who would club the bird to death as it approached them seeking friendship.
Few bones or relics remain of the dodo today. Without complete skeletons, it is impossible to estimate the true size of the dodo bird. While modern estimates range from around twenty to twenty-three kilograms, initial portraits of the bird show a much slimmer creature. Work has been done by museum curator Andrew Kitchener, which suggest that the dodo could have been as light as between thirteen and seventeen kilograms. By analysing dodo bones, he has come up with a prediction that shows the dodo wasn't a fat plump bird at all. Our opinions had been based around European portraits of the bird. These may have been a romanticized version of the truth, or those dodo removed from their natural environment may have been fattened up.
The nests of the dodo bird were, by necessity, built on the ground as the bird was flightless. The dodo's young were afforded little protection on the ground against introduced predators, such as the feral dogs and wild pigs left behind by sailors. Dodo eggs were trampled and eaten by such creatures, and the ability to repopulate the species after hunting of the bird was seriously affected. While the dodo had existed for centuries or more in the natural Mauritian environment, the impact of mankind through hunting and the introduction of new predators placed too great a strain upon the dodo. Soon it was lost to the world.
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