The dodo bird is perhaps the most famous example of an extinct animal, one that’s been the source of fantasy and fiction, and also nonfictional human curiosity. The squat, flightless bird—which was indigenous to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean—has been depicted in famous paintings, on Mauritius money, and in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. It’s also such a popular icon for animal extinction, that a nearly complete skeleton of the creature recently sold at a British museum auction for $621,700, according to Atlas Obscura.
The skeleton—a composite of bones that Mauritian naturalist Etienne Thirioux assembled after finding them in the Mare-aux-Songes swamp in the nineteenth century—was assembled by a scientist named Paul Carié, and has been with Carié’s family in the South of France for generations. It eventually made it’s way to Christie’s, an auction house with locations around the world, although the dodo was held at the London location. It was sold as part of the Science & Natural History auction on May 24, where it went to a private buyer.
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‘An iconic, almost mythical animal’ – Broadcaster Liz Bonnin (@lizbonnin) and our specialist James Hyslop (@thefineartofscience) take a closer look at a rare dodo bird skeleton.⠀ .⠀ A dodo skeleton. Mauritius, before 1690. 25 x 22 x 14 in. (64 x 55 x 35cm.). Estimate: £400,000-600,000.⠀ .⠀ Science & Natural History – 24 May at Christie’s London.⠀ .⠀ #art #artwork #naturalhistory #science #dodo #bird #skeleton #history
The beautiful composite skeleton is a fascinating thing to see up close, as evidenced in the above video from Christie’s. The dodo was taller than your average bird, standing at around two feet. It also had a unique bone structure, one that artists have been trying to properly depict for centuries. We may never know what a dodo bird truly looked like, or ever see it in action, but specimens like this preserve the scientific history of this incredible creature.
Images: Mr. Ford/Wiki Commons