dodo, extinct bird

dodo, a flightless forest-dwelling bird of Mauritius, extinct since the late 17th cent. The dodo was closely related to the Rodrigues solitaire, extinct flightless giant found on another island in the Mascarene Islands. Although a member of the pigeon family, the dodo was larger than the wild turkey. The plumage was dark gray with a whitish breast, tail, and wings, and the large black bill had a horny terminal cap. The dodo laid only one egg at a time, on the ground. Although the bird's flesh was tough and unpalatable, European sailors and the pigs and rats they brought to Mauritius slaughtered the birds and destroyed its eggs, and it became extinct in roughly 50 years. The dodo appears in Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, where it may be the author's surrogate.

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