Naturwissenschaften

, Volume 99, Issue 3, pp 177–184

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

  • Hanneke J. M. Meijer
  • Arike Gill
  • Perry G. B. de Louw
  • Lars W. Van Den Hoek Ostende
  • Julian P. Hume
  • Kenneth F. Rijsdijk
Original Paper

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Raphus cucullatus Insular ecosystem Mare aux Songes Mauritius Taphonomy 

Supplementary material

114_2012_882_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (88 kb)
ESM 1(PDF 88 kb)

References

  1. Angst D, Buffetaut E (2010) Un dodo en Normandie. Bull S.E.S.N.E. 9–16Google Scholar
  2. Angst D, Buffetaut E, Abourachid A (2011a) The end of the fat dodo? A new mass estimate for Raphus cucullatus. Naturwissenschaften 98:233–236PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Angst D, Buffetaut E, Abourachid A (2011b) In defense of slim dodo: a reply to Louchart and Mourer-Chauviré. Naturwissenschaften 98:359–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Behrensmeyer AK (1978) Taphonomic and ecologic information from bone weathering. Paleobiology 4:150–162Google Scholar
  5. Behrensmeyer AK, Gordon KD, Yanagi GT (1989) Non-human bone modification in Miocene fossils from Pakistan. In: Bonnichsen R, Sorg MH (eds) Bone modification (Proceedings of First International Conference on Bone Modification). Center for the Study of the First Americans, Orono, pp 99–120Google Scholar
  6. Behrensmeyer AK, Stayton CT, Chapman RE (2003) Taphonomy and ecology of modern avifaunal remains from Amboseli Park, Kenya. Paleobiology 29:52–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Braun A, Pfeiffer T (2002) Cyanobacterial blooms as the cause of a Pleistocene large mammal assemblage. Paleobiology 28:139–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Carié MP (1930) Le Leguatia Gigantea Schlegel (Rallidé) a-t-il existé? Bull Mus Nat d’Hist Nat 2:205–213Google Scholar
  9. Cheke AS, Hume JP (2008) Lost land of the dodo: an ecological history of Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues. A & C Black, LondonGoogle Scholar
  10. Clark G (1866) Account of the late discovery of dodo remains in the island of Mauritius. Ibis 2:141–146Google Scholar
  11. Cowles GS (1987) The fossil record. In: Diamond AW (ed) Studies of Mascarene Island birds. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  12. Ericson PGP (1987) Interpretations of archaeological bird remains: a taphonomic approach. J Arch Sci 14:65–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Gasse F (2000) Hydrological changes in the African tropics since the last glacial maximum. Quat Sci Rev 19:189–211CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Günther ACLG (1875) The gigantic land Tortoises of the Mascarene and Galapagos Islands. II. Nature 29:259–261CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hoffstetter R (1945) Sur les Scincidae fossiles. II. Formes subfossiles de l’Ile Maurice. Bull Mus Natl d’Hist Nat Paris 17:80–86Google Scholar
  16. Hoffstetter R (1946a) Sur les Gekkonidae fossiles. Bull Mus Natl Nat Paris 2e Sér 18:195–203Google Scholar
  17. Hoffstetter R (1946b) Les Typhlopidae fossiles. Bull Mus Natl Nat Paris 2e Sér 18:309–315Google Scholar
  18. Holdaway RN, Worthy TH (1997) A reappraisal of the late Quaternary fossil vertebrates of Pyramid Valley Swamp, North Canterbury, New Zealand. N Z J Zool 24:69–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hume JP (2005) Contrasting taphofacies in ocean island settings: the fossil record of Mascarene vertebrates. Proceedings of the International Symposium “Insular Vertebrate Evolution: the Paleontological Approach”. Mon Soc d’Hist Nat Bal 12:129–144Google Scholar
  20. Hume JP, Martill DM, Dewdney C (2004) Dutch diaries and the demise of the dodo. Nature 492:622Google Scholar
  21. Hume JP, Cheke AS, McOran-Campbell A (2009) How Owen ‘stole’ the Dodo: academic rivalry deposit in nineteenth century Mauritius. Hist Biol 21:1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Johnson P, Gerbeaux P (2004) Wetland types in New Zealand. Department of Conservation, WellingtonGoogle Scholar
  23. Louchart A, Mourer-Chauviré C (2011) The dodo was not so slim: leg dimensions and scaling to body mass. Naturwissenschaften 98:357–358PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Marchant RA, Hooghiemstra H (2004) Rapid environmental change in tropical Africa and Latin America about 4000 years before present: a review. Earth Sci Rev 66:217–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Newton E, Gadow H (1893) On additional bones of the dodo and other extinct birds of Mauritius obtained by Mr. Theodore Sauzier. Trans Zool Soc Lond XIII:281–302Google Scholar
  26. Rijsdijk KF, Hume JP, Bunnik F, Florens FBV, Baider C, Shapiro B, van der Plicht J, Janoo A, Griffiths O, van den Hoek Ostende LW, Cremer H, Vernimmen T, de Louw PGB, Bholah A, Saumtally S, Porch N, Haile J, Buckley M, Collins M, Gittenberger E (2009) Mid-Holocene vertebrate bone concentration-Lagerstätte on oceanic island Mauritius provides a window into the ecosystem of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus). Quat Sci Rev 28:14–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rijsdijk KF, Zinke J, de Louw PGB, Hume JP, van der Plicht J, Hooghiemstra H, Meijer HJM, Vonhof HB, Porch N, Florens FBV, Baider C, van Geel B, Brinkkemper J, Vernimmen T, Janoo A (2011) Mid-Holocene (4200 kyr BP) mass mortalities in Mauritius (Mascarenes): insular vertebrates resilient to climatic extremes but vulnerable to human impact. Holocene. doi:10.1177/0959683611405236
  28. Turvey ST, Holdaway RN (2005) Postnatal ontogeny, population structure, and extinction of the giant moa Dinornis. J Morph 265:70–86PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wood JR, Worthy TH, Rawlence NJ, Jones SM, Read SE (2008) A deposition mechanism for Holocene miring bone deposits, South Island, New Zealand. J Taph 6:1–20Google Scholar
  30. Worthy TH (1998) The Quaternary fossil avifauna of Southland, South Island, New Zealand. J R Soc N Z 28:537–589CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Worthy TH (2000) Two late-Glacial avifaunas from eastern North Island, New Zealand-Te Aute Swamp and Wheturau Quarry. J R Soc N Z 30:1–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hanneke J. M. Meijer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Arike Gill
    • 2
  • Perry G. B. de Louw
    • 3
  • Lars W. Van Den Hoek Ostende
    • 2
  • Julian P. Hume
    • 4
  • Kenneth F. Rijsdijk
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Birds, National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeologyNetherlands Centre for Biodiversity NaturalisLeidenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Deltares, Department Soil and GroundwaterUtrechtThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Bird Group, Department of ZoologyNatural History Museum at TringHertsUK
  5. 5.Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Computational Bio- and Physical GeographyUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations