A Discarded Dodo?

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on September 24th, 2012

Dr. Karl Shuker tells us:

“One of the most (in)famous stories in zoological museum history is how the world’s only stuffed specimen of the dodo Raphus cucullatus – Mauritius’s best-known species of extinct bird – was allegedly discarded and burnt on 8 January 1755 on the orders of a committee of trustees at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum because they considered it looked tatty, and how an assistant had the foresight to rescue its head and one of its feet before the flames reached them. As will be revealed later however, this story is spurious in the extreme. What is true, conversely, is that those precious relics were later transferred to the University Museum of Zoology, where they are now among its most prized specimens.”

And here’s Karl’s complete post…

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

One Response to “A Discarded Dodo?”

  1. mystery_man responds:

    It’s interesting, because I was just reading about the dodo recently and then this popped up here on Cryptomundo.

    I’ve always found it a tad shocking that such a well known animal, one that has become pretty much the poster child of extinct animals, at the time pretty much went out little fanfare. The dodo went extinct without no one really noticing.

    No one really noticed or cared that it was gone and there was very little known about its behavior or even its feeding preferences or preferred habitat. Most accounts of this bird are sparse and with little real detail, and it was never really studied to any meaningful degree. This bird was wiped out within 100 years of being discovered without us ever really understanding it or even registering it’s passing at the time.

    On top of that, there is an extremely meager collection of dodo remains, and although it is a certainty that live specimens were shipped to other countries in those days, it is unclear whatever happened to them. No one kept records of where they went or even if they arrived at their destinations in one piece. Apparently some even came here to Japan and it is not known if they even arrived, let alone what happened to them.

    Even after the birds were considered extinct, what few remains there were were lost or discarded or just generally disappeared. There was no real foresight into the value of these specimens, and generally the dodo seemed to receive little more respect in its death than it did in its life.

    I just find it amazing that for an animal that is so well known and prized today, the dodo was really not a big deal at the time and we have so few accounts or remains of these creatures. Sadly, since no one really cared much at the time, we will never know in detail about these amazing creatures, and will forever have to resort to the pitiful number of remains available to us for our studies.

    Sad for a creature that now is pretty much held up as the face of the specter of extinction.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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