The dodo, conceivably the most famed animal that extinct in human history, has been understood from an entire new perspective. When it comes to the bird’s appearance, the researchers described it as somewhat overweight, clumsy and tottering, in fact, so defenseless that it went extinct because of human predation. The last reported sighting of this strange bird is said to have been in 1662.
Though, with the emerging 3D laser scanning technology, researchers are now able to methodically examine the skeletons of the dodo, offering insights on the structure and lifestyle of the bird and untying some of its mysteries. Recently, the researchers developed a three-dimensional digital model of the bird with the help of a laser scanner. They also scanned a partially composite skeleton that Etienne Thirioux, a barber and amateur naturalist, created near Le Pouce Mountain in Mauritius between 1899 and 1917. The second skeleton is housed at the Durban Museum of Natural Science in South Africa and is made up of many bones that belonged to a single bird.
With the help of 3D laser, the paleontologists from the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts made the first ever full 3-D dodo scans. The researchers presented the scans at the Society for Vertebrate Archaeology’s annual conference in Berlin on Thursday.
The scans revealed that the dodos had kneecaps, which were formerly unknown structures within the dodo. The lead-author on the scanning mission, Leon Claessens, told Live Science that information collected from the scans will help provide insight into how the bird moved. The team will also look at the bird’s large jaw to better understand how it worked and what type of prey it caught.
Claessens said in a statement, “The 3-D laser surface scans we made of the fragile Thirioux dodo skeletons enable us to reconstruct how the dodo walked, moved, and lived to a level of detail that has never been possible before. We discovered that the anatomy of the dodo we were looking at was not previously described in detail. There were bones of the dodo that were just unknown to science until now.”
When combining this more complete skeleton with data from previous studies regarding other statistics like dodo population, scientists now have new ideas for exploring evolution in a species whose entire existence was cut very short after the appearance of humans.