The Creatures of 'Primeval' -- The Dodo Bird

Yes, it's not strictly dinosaurs that get a reprieve from extinction to appear on "Primeval." Non-dinosaurs and non-prehistoric creatures do as well, and this week it's the dodo, a long-dead bird whose name has become synonymous with not existing anymore. What's more, the dodo doesn't hail from a time period that's remotely primeval. It died out around 1662, within a century of humans first discovering it.

That's right, folks -- this one's on us.

Dodo display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, via Wikimedia Commons

In this week's "Primeval," the dodos are depicted as being curious, clumsy and just a little funny. Based on what we know about human interaction with this bird, that's pretty much on the mark. I mean, look at it. Waddling around, not able to fly, with that disapproving look on its face, the dodo would have been an entertaining animal to watch. In fact the word dodo is most often cited as coming from the Portuguese doudo, "fool," after sailors first encountered it on Mauritius and concluded that it looked stupid. Even its first scientific name, Didus ineptus, hinted at the fact that this bird didn't have much going on upstairs.

Other guesses at where the dodo's name came from are equally indicative of human disregard for it. According to the 2002 book "Dodo: From Extinction to Icon," some historians guesb it's supposed by some that dodo comes from the Dutch dodoor, "sluggard," or even Dodaars "fat-arse" or "knot-arse," and even that's not as bad as the original Dutch name for the bird, walghvogel, "wallow bird."

I guess it's not surprising, then, that humans killed off a bird that no one seemed to think was all that attractive or worthwhile. But at least we didn't kill the dodos just for the hell of it, even if these three-foot-tall, flightless birds had no natural fear of humans and would trot their fat behinds right up to whoever arrived on Mauritius. According to the 2012 book "Extinct Birds," the island never exceeded 50 people during the dodo's last year of existence, and it was actually the invasive species -- dogs, cats, rats, pigs and macaques -- that humans introduced to the island that most severely hurt the dodo.

The British Museum's display of Roelant Savery's 1626 painting of a Dodo, via Wikimedia Commons

So see? Not every species needs an epoch-ending cataclysm like the one that killed off the dinosaurs. In the case of the dodo, all it took was humans being thoughtless.

Got a dinosaur fan in the house? Got crayons? Because we've got a dodo bird that could use some coloring in.

Want the facts behind some of the other extinct creatures who have appeared on "Primeval"? Click here.

Get to know the human cast of "Primeval" with our character guide.


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