The Dodo Bird Was Not As Stupid As Believed
Scientists reveal that the extinct dodo, Raphus cucullatus, which was considered so stupid that it disappeared from the earth, was actually smarter than thought, said a new study by scientists from Stony Brook UniversityScientists reveal that the extinct dodo, Raphus cucullatus, which was considered so stupid that it disappeared from the earth, was actually smarter than thought, said a new study by scientists from Stony Brook University.
The study was published in Feb. 23, 2016, issue of the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
This large, flightless bird was a resident of the Mauritius island in the Indian Ocean and was last spotted in 1662. In a new study, it was revealed that the size of the dodo's brain compared to its body size was about equal to that of pigeons, its closest living relatives. As pigeons could be trained, scientists surmise that the dodo too appears to possess at least an average level of intelligence.
One more finding is that the dodo had an oversized olfactory bulb, a part of the brain dealing with the smell. This is an unusual characteristic as most birds focus their brainpower on sight.
"When the island was discovered in the late 1500s, the dodos living there had no fear of humans and they were herded onto boats and used as fresh meat for sailors," Eugenia Gold, lead author of the study, said in a press release."Because of that behavior and invasive species that were introduced to the island, they disappeared in less than 100 years after humans arrived. Today, they are almost exclusively known for becoming extinct, and I think that's why we've given them this reputation of being dumb."
Gold and her team studied a well-reserved dodo skull from London's Natural History Museum. Subjecting it to a high-resolution computer tomography (CT) scanning, simulating the method on the skulls of seven pigeons, and repeating it on the reconstructed brain of the Rodrigues solitaire, its closest relative, helped her to arrive at comparative analyses.
"I digitally filled in its braincase to recreate and endocast of the dodo," Gold said, "We also performed a regression of brain volume to body size and found that the dodo has a brain completely in proportion to its body size."
"It's not impressively large or impressively small - it's exactly the size you would predict it to be for its body size," Gold added. "So if you take brain size as a proxy for intelligence, dodos probably had a similar intelligence level to pigeons. Of course, there's more to intelligence than just overall brain size, but this gives us a basic measure."