Aug. 24 (UPI) -- Researchers in a new study at the Natural History Museum in London were able to map out the long-extinct dodo's reproductive and growth cycle, shedding light on its ecology.
The dodo, Raphus cucullatus, was a flightless pigeon endemic to Mauritius that became extinct in the 17th century in 1680 due to human and invasive species activity. During the one century it cohabitated with humans, very little was done to document the creatures.
Researchers were able to shed light on the elusive dodo by conducting an analysis of its bone histology in a study published today in Scientific Reports.
The study found that female dodos ovulated in August during the southern hemisphere winter, laying eggs that would hatch in September.
"The chicks grew very quickly to be strong enough to endure the austral summer, which is the season of cyclones and storms on Mauritius," Delphine Angst, a biologist at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, said in a press release.
Researchers found that by March, young dodos would molt and grow adult feathers.
"By the end of July, all the feathers would have been renewed and the period of reproduction could start."
Angst estimated dodos probably weighed 22 to 30 pounds by analyzing the microscopic structure of crushed dodo bones.
"Histology has been around for decades, but the method is a destructive and could not-up to now-be applied to dodo fossils," Angst said.
The team of researchers obtained 22 bones from 22 different dodos donated by museum curators around the world for their research study.