Original Paper


, Volume 99, Issue 3, pp 177-184

First online:

Dodo remains from an in situ context from Mare aux Songes, Mauritius

  • Hanneke J. M. MeijerAffiliated withDivision of Birds, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian InstitutionDepartment of Geology, Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis Email author 
  • , Arike GillAffiliated withDepartment of Geology, Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis
  • , Perry G. B. de LouwAffiliated withDeltares, Department Soil and Groundwater
  • , Lars W. Van Den Hoek OstendeAffiliated withDepartment of Geology, Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis
  • , Julian P. HumeAffiliated withBird Group, Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum at Tring
  • , Kenneth F. RijsdijkAffiliated withInstitute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Computational Bio- and Physical Geography, University of Amsterdam

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Since 2005, excavations at Mare aux Songes, Mauritius, have revealed the presence of a very rich, ∼4,200-year-old fossil bone bed including dodo (Raphus cucullatus) bones and bone fragments. The recently excavated dodo assemblage comprises at least 17 individuals and is characterised by the presence of small and fragile skeletal elements, a dominance of leg elements and an absence of juveniles. The hydrology of the area suggests that dodos, like many other species, were probably lured to Mare aux Songes by the presence of freshwater during times of drought. The most likely scenario for the origin of the fossil deposit is that animals became trapped in the sediment in repeated miring events, which would favour the conservation of hindlimbs. Such a scenario is fully in accordance with the taphonomic characteristics of the bone assemblage.


Raphus cucullatus Insular ecosystem Mare aux Songes Mauritius Taphonomy