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Anatomy of the Dodo (1 Viewer)

Fred Ruhe

Well-known member
Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology
Volume 35, Supplement 1, 2015


Preface by Leon P. A. M. Claessens, Hanneke J. M. Meijer, Julian P. Hume & Kenneth F. Rijsdijk

pages 1-2

Free pdf: https://www.researchgate.net/public..._Osteological_Study_of_the_Thirioux_Specimens

A review of the dodo and its ecosystem: insights from a vertebrate concentration Lagerstätte in Mauritius by Kenneth F. Rijsdijk, Julian P. Hume, Perry G. B. De Louw, Hanneke J. M. Meijer, Anwar Janoo, Erik J. De Boer, Lorna Steel, John De Vos, Laura G. Van Der Sluis, Henry Hooghiemstra, F. B. Vincent Florens, Cláudia Baider, Tamara J. J. Vernimmen, Pieter Baas, Anneke H. Van Heteren, Vikash Rupear, Gorah Beebeejaun, Alan Grihault, J. (Hans) Van Der Plicht, Marijke Besselink, Juliën K. Lubeek, Max Jansen, Sjoerd J. Kluiving, Hege Hollund, Beth Shapiro, Matthew Collins, Mike Buckley, Ranjith M. Jayasena, Nicolas Porch, Rene Floore, Frans Bunnik, Andrew Biedlingmaier, Jennifer Leavitt, Gregory Monfette, Anna Kimelblatt, Adrienne Randall, Pieter Floore & Leon P. A. M. Claessensh

pages 3-20


The dodo Raphus cucullatus Linnaeus, 1758, an extinct and flightless, giant pigeon endemic to Mauritius, has fascinated people since its discovery, yet has remained surprisingly poorly known. Until the mid-19th century, almost all that was known about the dodo was based on illustrations and written accounts by 17th century mariners, often of questionable accuracy. Furthermore, only a few fragmentary remains of dodos collected prior to the bird's extinction exist. Our understanding of the dodo's anatomy was substantially enhanced by the discovery in 1865 of subfossil bones in a marsh called the Mare aux Songes, situated in southeastern Mauritius. However, no contextual information was recorded during early excavation efforts, and the majority of excavated material comprised larger dodo bones, almost all of which were unassociated. Here we present a modern interdisciplinary analysis of the Mare aux Songes, a 4200-year-old multitaxic vertebrate concentration Lagerstätte. Our analysis of the deposits at this site provides the first detailed overview of the ecosystem inhabited by the dodo. The interplay of climatic and geological conditions led to the exceptional preservation of the animal and associated plant remains at the Mare aux Songes and provides a window into the past ecosystem of Mauritius. This interdisciplinary research approach provides an ecological framework for the dodo, complementing insights on its anatomy derived from the only associated dodo skeletons known, both of which were collected by Etienne Thirioux and are the primary subject of this memoir.

Free pdf: https://www.researchgate.net/public...ebrate_concentration_Lagerstatte_in_Mauritius

Provenance and history of the Thirioux dodos by Leon P. A. M. Claessens & Julian P. Hume

pages 21-28


The exact provenance of the two associated dodo skeletons collected in the vicinity of Port Louis, Mauritius, around the turn of the 19th century is shrouded in mystery, as well as their collector, the amateur naturalist and barber Louis Etienne Thirioux (1846–1917). The most complete specimen resides in the Mauritius Institute, Port Louis, whereas the second, which is a partial composite, is in the Durban Natural Science Museum (South Africa). Early correspondence between Thirioux and Alfred Newton, Professor of Zoology and Comparative Anatomy at Cambridge University, detailed museum records kept by Ernest Chubb from the Durban Natural Science Museum, and early photographic records of Thirioux's finds shed some light on the early history of the specimens. The Port Louis specimen appears to consist of the bones of a single bird, apart from what appear to be an extra pair of lacrimals, and is essentially complete, including, for instance, the wrist bones, the patella, and the tarsal sesamoid, with the sole exception of the phalanx digiti minoris (present in the Durban specimen). These elements have never been described or illustrated before. The Durban specimen contains elements that most likely derived from a very small number of birds, possibly as few as two. Records indicate that some reconstruction has been undertaken on the Durban specimen, including the discarding of a cervical vertebra. However, regardless of unanswered questions regarding the history and provenance of the Thirioux dodo specimens, they represent the most complete, associated skeletal remains in existence.

The Morphology of the Thirioux dodos by Leon P. A. M. Claessens, Hanneke J. M. Meijer & Julian P. Hume

pages 29-187


Despite its status as an icon of extinction and relatively recent disappearance, our knowledge of the anatomy of the dodo has been hampered by a scarcity of preserved remains. The handful of dodo relics that survive from collections made prior to the bird's extinction consist solely of cranial and pedal materials, whereas other dodo skeletons preserved in museum collections are incomplete composites, constructed from subfossil skeletal remains discovered since 1865 at the Mare aux Songes locality. Here we describe the skeletal anatomy of two exceptional dodo specimens, collected around 1904 by amateur naturalist Louis Etienne Thirioux in the caves and crevasses surrounding Le Pouce, which have escaped detailed scientific analysis until now. The Port Louis specimen appears to consist of the skeletal remains of a single bird and is essentially complete, whereas the Durban specimen has been constructed from a limited number of birds but contains many bones that appear to be associated. The Port Louis specimen provides the first information regarding relative skeletal proportions of the dodo. Unique skeletal elements that were unknown or never described scientifically before include the patella, tarsal sesamoids, ulnare and radiale, and distal wing phalanges. The anatomy of the Thirioux dodos supports recent reinterpretations of the dodo as a resilient bird that was well adapted to the Mauritian ecosystem.



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