Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Dodo flew to its grave

04.03.2002


The dodo died out in the seventeenth century.
© SPL


Ancestors of the flightless figurehead of extinction island-hopped.

The flightless dodo’s ungainly shape hid an island-hopping past, say researchers. DNA from the extinct bird has revealed its place in the pigeon family tree, and suggests how it came to end up on its home, and graveyard, the island of Mauritius1.

The dodo’s strange appearance led to centuries of wrangling over its ancestry. "It’s the figurehead of extinction, yet little is known about its evolution," says zoologist Alan Cooper of the University of Oxford.



Cooper and his colleagues extracted DNA from museum specimens, including the one in Oxford that was the inspiration for the dodo in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Poignantly, the dodo’s closest relative is also extinct, the team found. The solitaire pigeon (Pezophaps solitaria), which was also large and flightless, lived on Rodrigues Island, 550 kilometres northeast of Mauritius. It died out in about 1765, a century after the dodo (Raphus cucullatus).

These birds are descended from Asian pigeons. The common ancestor of both species began its passage across the Indian Ocean about 43 million years ago.

The proto-dodo probably used the Mascarene islands as stepping-stones, the researchers suggest. This chain of volcanic islands also began to appear about 43 million years ago, stretching south from the Asian mainland. Many of the Mascarenes have now sunk back beneath the waves.

Mauritius and Rodrigues are youthful outposts of the group: Mauritius is about 7 million years old, Rodrigues a mere 1.5 million. Cooper speculates that the solitaire and dodo reached their new homes by air, later evolving flightlessness independently. "Rodrigues is far off over some deep ocean," he says. "It’d be a lot easier to fly there."

References

  1. Shapiro, B. Flight of the dodo. Science, 295, 1683, (2002).


JOHN WHITFIELD | © Nature News Service

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika

23.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Melting solid below the freezing point

23.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>