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 Fish recognize their prey by electric colors
13.11.2018 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection
13.11.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dawn of a new era for genebanks - molecular characterisation of an entire genebank collection

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Fish recognize their prey by electric colors

13.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Ultrasound Connects

13.11.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>