Encyclopedia of Things We Lost Forever – Day 7: Dodo

Banksy for the Wimp: Encyclopedia of Things We Lost Forever

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The dodo was a flightless, plump bird that lived on the island today known as Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. For the longest time the island was uninhabited. It was first recorded in the Middle Ages by Arab sailors. Portuguese sailors established a visiting base there in 1507. At that time the dodo was epidemic on the island as it had no native predator. As soon as man set foot on the island though it was hunted by sailors, their domesticated animals and by invasive species introduced by man. The last recorded sighting of the dodo dates back to 1662. Today the dodo counts as the first animal that went extinct due to humans. It only lives on in Alice in Wonderland.

It’s closest genetic relative, the Rodrigues solitaire, is also extinct, erasing this whole subfamily of the family of doves and pigeons from the gene-pool. Evolution that means progress and ultimately survival depends on diversity. Every animal, every subfamily and family we lose narrows down the chances of success of evolution and thus narrows down our chances of survival. It happens naturally because death and decline is as much part of nature as birth and growth is. But that extinction was not nature, it was humans who destroyed the whole ecosystem of the island for a mono-culture of sugar. It was the first but not the last extinction we were directly responsible for.