Dumb and Dodo

Is calling someone a “dodo” not an insult after all? It seems that science has potentially butchered another good snub, which disappoints me, but it may be good news for one of my unfortunate friends.

Long inhabitants of the island Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, the flightless dodo birds led peaceful lives thriving off of fallen fruit. The Portuguese became the first humans (and mammals) to arrive on Mauritius in 1505. With their 50 pound weight and lack of experience with predators, dodos quickly became a food source for sailors and tragically went extinct in 1681. It was their unusual trusting nature with the humans that dubbed dodos “stupid” and a modern term for someone acting dumb. However, by examining a dodo skull, the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society has discovered that the brain-to-body size ratio of these birds were quite similar to pigeons; due to their trainability, pigeons are considered quite intelligent birds. Through imaging, it was also revealed that unusually large olfactory bulbs would have given dodos a stronger sense of smell than most birds.

Dodo Bird Skeleton

So has the truth about the dodo finally surfaced 335 years after their passing? Unfortunately, intelligence cannot be measured by brain size alone, so at best scientists can only gain a basic measure of dodo sophistication. Although these birds could indeed turn out to be the simpleton fowl they are widely recognized as, I for one will respect their memory and release my unfortunate friend from his nickname “dodo”.

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1 Comment

  1. Mona
    April 11, 2016 at 7:36 pm — Reply

    I found this article super interesting. It’s amazing how scientists, after hundreds of years after extinction, are able to find out so much about these birds. Overall, great topic and really well-written!

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