Dead as a dodo but not forgotten

Dodo Skeleton at Natural History Museum London.

SO tasty and trusting was the dodo that sailors putting into Mauritius treated them  as ‘walking snacks,’ picked them up and had them for lunch and dinner which meant by the 17th century they had become extinct although there were a few skeletons and mounted specimens plus sketches left to remind us of them.

Little interest existed in the plight of the dodo until the Victorian age when the Reverend Dodgson (pen name of Lewis Carroll) re-introduced the world to the dodo in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and it may be that the character is supposed to represent the author who had a stutter and often introduced himself as Do-do-dodgson.

In 1848, a scholarly publication, The Dodo and its Kindred was written by two scholars Strickland and Melville which brought the story of this flightless bird from the Indian Ocean back to life with many individuals trying to find stuffed examples or skeletons.

One example was situated in Oxford at one of the colleges but several years ago, because it was a bit tatty, it was thrown onto a bonfire and destroyed.

Now after 40 years of searching for pieces of skeleton, a collector managed to create a 95 per cent near perfect example of the bird and it sold at auction in the UK at Summers Place Auctions on November 22 to a private collector for £280,000 (€322,000) which with buyer’s commission totalled £346,000 (€398,000).

This is thought to be the only skeleton in private hands and the other 12 that are known are all in museums around the world but should any more be discovered in Mauritius or its outer islands, they will not be removed as the bones and remains of the dodo are now protected.

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