Dodo

Raphus cucullatus

Although cryptozoologists agree that the dodo is extinct, some have proposed that they may have survived in fewer numbers until more recently. Dodos were a species of bird in the Raphinae family, the only other species being the Réunion ibis and the Rodrigues solitaire, both of which also went extinct. 


They inhabited the tropical rainforest on the island of Mauritius and were about three feet tall, 20 to 30 pounds, with greyish or brownish plumage, and a tuft of lighter feathers on its rear. The head was grey and mostly featherless with a black and yellow beak. Little is known about their behaviour, diet, or preferred habitat, but reports by explorers suggested they lived in the more wooded and swampier parts of the island. 


They were discovered in 1598 by Dutch sailors. Their population began to rapidly dwindle because they were easy targets for hunting and they had no instinctual fear of humans due to a lack of predators on the island. Introduced invasive species also contributed to their downfall. It was thought that the last dodos died in 1662 and since became the unofficial symbol of extinction and human destruction. Although the dodo is thought to have gone extinct in 1662, a handful of sightings after their alleged extinction date have occurred.


In 1672, an escaped slave claimed that he saw a dodo while on the run in the interior of Mauritius. In 2014, Dutch journals were uncovered that mentioned that dodos were seen by settlers as recently as 1674. Isaac Johannes Lamotius, an ichthyologist and 17th governor of Mauritius before independence wrote in his hunting records that he killed multiple dodos as recently as 1688. It was also reported that, in the early 1700s, fresh dodo remains were found on what is now Mauritius’s international airport. Some have speculated dodos lived even more recently, possibly surviving in one of the many small, rocky islets around Mauritius. Although there are a handful of dodo sightings on mainland Mauritius as recently as 1992, they are dubious at best and it would be extremely unlikely for a bird with no fear or instinct to hide could remain undetected in Mauritius, which has less than 2% of its rainforest intact.

One of the few paintings of a dodo drawn from life, by Ustad Mansur (1590-1624)

One of the few paintings of a dodo drawn from life, by Ustad Mansur (1590-1624)

A severed head and foot of a dodo

A severed head and foot of a dodo