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Flightless birds

When did the dodo become extinct?

Nature volume 426, page 245 (20 November 2003) | Download Citation



The extinction of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus L.; Fig. 1) is commonly dated to the last confirmed sighting in 1662, reported by Volkert Evertsz on an islet off Mauritius1,2. By this time, the dodo had become extremely rare — the previous sighting having been 24 years earlier — but the species probably persisted unseen beyond this date. Here we use a statistical method to establish the actual extinction time of the dodo as 1690, almost 30 years after its most recent sighting.

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  1. 1.

    in Studies of Mascarene Island Birds (ed. Diamond, A. W.) 5–89 (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1987).

  2. 2.

    Dodo: A Brief History (Universe Books, New York, 2002).

  3. 3.

    Biometrika 67, 257–258 (1980).

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  1. *Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AE, UK

    • David L. Roberts
  2. †Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachusetts 02543, USA

    • Andrew R. Solow


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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Correspondence to Andrew R. Solow.

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