Download This Sample
This sample is exclusively for KidsKonnect members!
To download this worksheet, click the button below to signup for free (it only takes a minute) and you'll be brought right back to this page to start the download!
Sign Me Up
Endemic to the island of Mauritius, the Dodo (Raphus cucullatus) is an extinct flightless bird, from the family Columbidae. This forest-dwelling species had been in existence for thousands or millions of years, but due to human activities, it was wiped out in just a matter of decades.
See the fact file below for more information on the Dodo or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Dodo worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The origin of the term “dodo” is still debatable. Some say the name may be associated with the Dutch word “dodaars,” which means “fat-arse” or “knot-arse.” They are water birds known as the Little Grebes or Dabchicks which look like the dodo for their feathers on the rear end and for their clumsy gait. Based on records, Captain Willem Van West-Zanen first used the term dodaars in his journal in 1602. The Dutch also used to call dodos the “walgvogel,” meaning “ghastly bird,” for the way they tasted.
- English writer Sir Thomas Herbert was said to be the first person to use the word dodo in print in his 1634 travelogue, since the Dutch reached Mauritius in 1638. Based on the Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology, the term “dodo” originates from the Portuguese word doudo, which translates to “fool” or “crazy.” Doudo might have been borrowed from the Old English word “dolt”.
- Another theory states that ‘dodo’ was an onomatopoeic assumption of the bird’s own two-note call – ‘doo-doo,’ which sounds like that of the pigeons. This was mentioned in David Quammen’s book, The Song of the Dodo.
- In October 2005, 2000-year-old bones from about 20 dodos were spotted by Dutch and Mauritian scientists. These were released to the public two months after by Naturalis, the Netherlands scientific institute in Leiden; this was an important discovery since the pieces of evidence found are scarce. The last complete stuffed dodo burned into ashes at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum in 1755. No complete skeleton has ever been scavenged by researchers since 2006.
- The East London Museum in South Africa houses a dodo egg. Oxford Museum of Natural History displays the most complete remains of a dodo – a head and a foot.
- According to its genetic studies and reviews, dodos are assumed to be classified under the pigeon family and its closest extant relative is the Nicobar pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica), endemic to the islands of Nicobar near Southeast Asia.
- Paintings and illustrations in Europe from the 1600s show the dodo bird with a blue-gray plumage, a 9-inch blackish hooked bill with a reddist point, compact yellow legs, a clump of curly feathers on its hind end, and short and thick wings. Dodos are said to be large birds, weighing around 50 pounds.
- Dodos are flightless birds; they did not utilize their short wings to fly because they had small breast bones which could not support their large pectoral muscles. Researchers suggest dodos evolved from a bird that used to have the ability to fly and landed on Mauritius. Given Mauritius’ circumstance, with no suspected predators and abundance of food, the dodo’s ancestors need not to fly; thus, the flightless dodo evolved.
- Biologist Andrew Kitchener of the Royal Museum of Scotland, disagreed with the bird’s fat and clumsy description. He claims that dodos were naturally “lithe and athletic” and that artists’ interpretation of the dodo showed overfed, captive species. Since its native island has dry and wet seasons, dodos probably ate too much fruit at the end of the wet season to survive the dry season when food was insufficient. Since dodos in captivity have enough food access, Kitchener suggests that the birds gained weight by eating voraciously on an unrestricted diet.
- Researchers believe that natural disaster and/or human activities might have been the cause of the dodo’s extinction.
- In 2006, scientists from the Dodo Research Program found proof suggesting that natural disasters may have wiped out dodos before humans reached Mauritius, reducing its population so critically that it dropped below sustainable levels.
- With or without natural disaster, it is undeniable that humans did contribute to their extinction. Dodos were believed to be fearless birds. This trait plus their inability to fly made them an easy prey.
- The Portuguese first reached Mauritius around 1505; the Dutch, however, were the first permanent settlers on the island a century after, bringing with them sheep, dogs, pigs, rats, and monkeys which devastated and looted dodo’s nests. Moreover, human activities destroyed the forests where they built their homes and found food.
- The last known dodo was wiped out of existence less than a century after their discovery.
- The widely accepted date of their extinction is 1662, when a shipwrecked sailor Volkert Evertsz (or Evertszoon) saw a small population of this species on a small island off Mauritius. Some researchers have rejected the theory and claimed that the sighting might have been 24 years earlier, in 1638, and suggested that the dodo might have survived until 1690, but went missing because of their declining number.
- Another group of scientists looked into the hunting records of Isaac Joan Lamotius, a Mauritian native, who listed dodos as one of the animals killed by his hunting parties on 12 different occasions between 1685 to 1688. Statistical analysis of the records and previous sightings show an estimated extinction date of 1693, with a 95% confidence interval between 1688 to 1715.
DODOS IN POPULAR CULTURE
- Dodos are widely used in literature and popular culture; they are the best-known representations of extinct animals.
- One of their famous appearances is in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
- With the popularity of the book, “dead as a Dodo” turned into a household phrase.
- The dodo is also featured on the Coat of Arms of Mauritius.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Dodo across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Dodo worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Dodo (Raphus cucullatus) which is an extinct flightless bird, from the family Columbidae. This forest-dwelling species had been in existence for thousands or millions of years, but due to human activities, it was wiped out in just a matter of decades.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Dodo Facts
- Hello Dodo
- Dodo Basics
- Ask a Dodo
- Flightless Birds
- Save the Forests
- Why Dodo?
- What They Did to Dodo
- Ode to the Dodos
- Draw a Dodo
Link/cite this page
If you reference any of the content on this page on your own website, please use the code below to cite this page as the original source.
Link will appear as Dodo Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 4, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.