As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Why the Dodo Deserves a New Reputation

Armed with 3-D scanning technology, one researcher is out to reinvent our perception of a long-extinct bird.

The Dodo specimen housed at the Durban Natural
 Science Museum is one of only two complete 
skeletons known to scientists. 
Photo: Durban Natural Science Museum

According to the dictionary, a “dodo” is either a dull-witted, slow-reacting person, or a clumsy, extinct bird—and the first definition rose out of the second. But to Leon Claessens, a Dutch paleontologist at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, the Dodo is “a very complex, dynamic animal,” that deserves a little more respect—and maybe a better PR agent.

Evidence found by Claessens and his team may just be enough to shatter the stereotype. The researchers spent the past five years examining every inch of the only two complete Dodo skeletons known to scientists. By studying the way the muscles and tendons attached to the bird’s bones, they’ve realized that the 3-foot-tall, 40-pound avian was much more sleekly proportioned and graceful than previously imagined. They also discovered kneecaps on the birds, which could mean it had better mobility on the ground.

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