Scientists said Friday they found a major cache of bones and likely complete skeletons of the long-extinct Dodo bird, which could help them reconstruct what the bird may have looked like. The find is significant because no complete skeleton of a single Dodo bird has ever been retrieved from a controlled archeological site in Mauritius. The last known stuffed bird was destroyed in a 1755 fire at the Ashmolean Museum in London, leaving only drawings of the bird to go on.
The bird was found on Mauritius but its rapidly dwindled after the arrival of Portuguese and Dutch sailors, the latter of whom settled the island. Within a century, the bird was killed off, likely by 1700. The international team of researchers found the bones on a sugar cane plantation on Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean off the east coast of Madigascar.
They presented their findings at the Naturalis Museum in the Dutch city of Leiden Friday. "We have found 700 bones including bones from 20 Dodo birds and chicks but we believe there are many more at the site," said Kenneth Rijsdijk, a Dutch geologist who led the research team. DNA material from other Dodos exists, but Rijsdijk said more and better samples could be retrieved from the latest find, estimated to be 2,000 to 3,000 years old, reports the AP. N.U.