January 29, 2011

How Dead Is The Dodo?

Cryptozoological reports of the Dodo do exist. Dodos have been reported, and thus they are today cryptids.  Intriguingly, the phrase “dead as a dodo” means “undoubtedly and unquestionably dead,” whilst the phrase “to go the way of the dodo” means “to become extinct or obsolete, to fall out of common usage or practice, or to become a thing of the past.” If the Dodo were to be rediscovered, these phrases themselves would become obsolete. How ironic.

The following reconstruction is what Bill Munns created of the Dodo, and may be the closest illustration we have to how a living dodo looked in the wild.

munn dodo

The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus) was a flightless bird endemic to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. Related to pigeons and doves, it stood about 3.3 feet (a meter) tall, weighing about 44 pounds (20 kilograms), living on fruit, and nesting on the ground.

The Dodo has allegedly been extinct since the mid-to-late 17th century.

There is some controversy surrounding the extinction date of the dodo. Roberts & Solow state that “the extinction of the Dodo is commonly dated to the last confirmed sighting in 1662, reported by shipwrecked mariner Volkert Evertsz” (Evertszoon), but many other sources suggest the more conjectural date of 1681. Roberts & Solow point out that because the sighting prior to 1662 was in 1638, the Dodo was likely already very rare by the 1660s, and thus a disputed report from 1674 cannot be dismissed out-of-hand.

Statistical analysis of the hunting records of Isaac Johannes Lamotius give a new estimated extinction date of 1693, with a 95% confidence interval of 1688 to 1715; the last reported sighting is from the hunting records of Lamotius, who gives the year 1688, but it has been suggested that by this time the Dutch name “dodaers” had been transferred to the flightless Red Rail, which is now also extinct.

Due to travelers’ reports and the lack of good reports after 1689, it is likely that the Dodo became extinct before 1700. Sadly, the last Dodo died little more than a century after the species’ discovery in 1581.

Flightless Fred Dodo
The Dodo nicknamed “Fred.” The Natural History Museum, London, photo. No museum or collection exists that has a real Dodo taxidermy item. They all are re-creations.


This museum quality replica of the Dodo is from the company Safari Ltd.

Cryptozoologically, sightings of birds resembling Dodos have been recorded in recent years from some of the islands surrounding Mauritius. About twenty years ago, people began claiming they saw strange birds, like Dodos, on the Mauritius beaches. Reports of sightings of living Dodos in the 1990s on Mauritius prompted William J. Gibbons to mount expeditions to search for them. None were found.

Don’t let the International Cryptozoology Museum go the way of the Dodo, merely a series of sightings from the past but apparently extinct today. Donate today, please.

Thank you!!

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

Filed under Avian Mysteries, Cryptomundo Exclusive, Cryptotourism, CryptoZoo News, Extinct, Eyewitness Accounts, New Species, Year In Review