Scientists Closer Than Ever to Discovering What the Hell the Dodo Looked Like

Dodo, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin. Rekonstruktion ©bb
History has not been kind to the dodo. Like a hideous specimen of bad taxidermy assembled by a person who’s never actually seen the animal they’re recreating, most of history’s accounts of the fabled bird have suffered the effects of a little too much creative license.

By Sarah Emerson|MOTHERBOARD

The very first account of the dodo was from Heyndrick Dircksz Jolinck, a ship’s mate who led an expedition on the island of Mauritius in 1598, and referred to the birds as “penguins.” Jolinck, perhaps like any hungry seafarer, appeared more interested in the dodo’s nutritional properties than its scientific value, adding, “these particular birds have a stomach so large that it could provide two men with a tasty meal and was actually the most delicious part of the bird.”

But now, scientists are finally able to bring the extinct bird to life with more accuracy than ever before, thanks to the first-ever 3D model of the dodo’s skeletal anatomy.

The 3D skeletal atlas, published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, has allowed researchers to identify unknown bones in the dodo’s skeleton, recalibrate inaccurate representations of the bird’s anatomical proportions, and make new assumptions about the way it behaved in its environment.

The international team of paleontologists responsible for the new study labored for five years and poured thousands of hours into painstakingly digitizing the only two fully intact dodo skeletons presently known to man.

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