A reclamation project that is underway in Steelend to preserve the Steelend Bog which is an important Site of Special Scientific Interest has made a recent discovery of a preserved Dodo (Raphus cucullatus).

During a recent clearance of timber, an extremely unusual object was discovered. This appeared to be an organic object that resembled a bird of some kind. The item concerned was immediately referred to the Edinburgh Zoological Society who have identified the object as a sub-fossilised dodo. Dr. April Fuller of the Society has stated that this is a most amazing discovery that has been extremely well preserved by the waterlogged oxygen-free conditions in the bog. The remains have been forwarded to Heriot-Watt University for carbon-14 dating. The dodo was a flightless bird that was discovered on the island of Madagascar in the 15th century by the Portuguese. In fact, the name dodo comes from the Portuguese word doido, meaning fool. The reasons why the bird became extinct were twofold. First, the bird was extremely easy to catch as it had no fear of man and secondly, they were delicious to eat.

The local history of the area tells us that this site was once a part of the Bandrum estate; and in the early eighteenth century the land was owned by Archibald Hogg who was a captain in the East India Company. His travels would have taken him to Madagascar and it is possible that he brought a few dodos back to Saline in order to breed them.

dodo 1

The Dodo was a flightless bird that was endemic to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Fossils show that Dodos were around 1 metre (3.3 feet) in height. The last widely accepted sighting of the Dodo was in 1662 and it’s extinction was not immediately noticed.

Not much is known about the Dodo which had it’s first recorded mention by Dutch sailors in 1598. In subsequent years the bird was hunted by sailors, and by invasive species that were introduced into the area at that time.

Little is known about the Dodo with regards to it’s behaviour and habitat, likewise its exact appearance in life remains unresolved with only a handful of illustrations drawn from live specimens.

To read more about the discovery, please visit: Saline, Steelend and Communities – E-bulletin

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