This ancient, flightless, pigeon-like creature may have deceived us for centuries. For years researchers have assumed that because it became extinct, then this weird looking bird must’ve been stupid, since it didn’t know how to survive. But now it seems that dodo birds were actually smarter than we thought.
This ancient creature, also known as Raphus Cucullatus, lived on the Mauritius Island, at the east of Madagascar. The first official mention of this bird was made in 1598 by a group of Dutch sailors.
After this species was discovered, it didn’t have such an easy life. Sailors began hunting it, as well as many domesticated animals. It was reportedly last seen in 1662, after which it disappeared completely.
Since it became extinct in such a short period of time, many scientists believed this bird to be stupid, since it could not protect itself against attackers. This even led to the word “dodo” being used in phrases and various contexts that suggest stupidity.
But there seems to be new information which suggests that these Mauritius-based birds were actually quite intelligent, at least as smart as a pigeon.
A group of researchers who examined their fossils discovered that this bird’s brain part, which was connected to smelling, was actually augmented.
This was an uncommon occurrence for birds, considering the fact that they usually focus their brainpower on eyesight.
This made lead author Eugenia Gold want to investigate further and so she found a dodo bird’s skull in good condition at the National History Museum in London and she ran a CT scan on it.
She then used the same procedure for the skulls of seven types of pigeons. From all of these scans, the scientist managed to build virtual brain endocasts, in order to determine the total brain size, as well as the sizes of different structures inside the brain.
With the help of researchers from the Natural History Museum of Denmark and the National Museum of Scotland, who provided her with the endocast for the Rodrigues solitaire, the dodo bird’s closest relative, she discovered that the bird’s brain was completely normal-sized for her body type.
It is neither too large, nor too small, which means she probably had the same intelligence level of a pigeon. Considering the fact that pigeons are quite smart, that means dodo birds definitely do not deserve to go down in history as the stupid ones.
Image Source: LiveScience