The Resurrection of the Dodo

Paleontologists have released the first ever 3-D scans of the extinct, flightless bird which could help them learn how the animal moved.

Leon Claessens/Mauritius Museums Council

Alas, the poor dodo. All that remains of this extinct flightless bird’s legacy are a single complete skeleton and a synonym for “dimwit.”

But from those bones, researchers may now be able to recreate the 3-feet tall bird. Using a 3-D laser, paleontologists from the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts made the first ever full 3-D dodo scans. The team presented the scans for the first time Thursday at the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology's annual conference in Berlin.

The scans showed that dodos had kneecaps, which were previously unknown structures within the dodo, Live Science reported. Leon Claessens, lead author on the scanning mission, told Live Science that information gleaned from the scans will help provide insight into how the bird moved. The team will also look at the bird’s large jaw in order to better understand how it worked and what type of prey it caught.

“The 3-D laser surface scans we made of the fragile Thirioux dodo skeletons enable us to reconstruct how the dodo walked, moved, and lived to a level of detail that has never been possible before,” Claessens said in a statement.

The dodo went extinct at the end of the 1600s after Dutch settlers introduced rats and pigs onto the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean a century earlier. Claessens and his team made the scans off of the only known complete dodo skeleton, which was located in the Natural History Museum in Port Louis, Mauritius. The remains, which were found in 1903, may now contribute another facet to the dodo's legacy.