|The Dodo & Given (1759) by G.Edwards|
Noun. Plural dodos or dodoes. Early 17th century.
[Portuguese doudo simpleton, fool.]
1 A large flightless bird, Raphus cucullatus, with stumpy wings,
which inhabited Mauritius until it became extinct in the 17th century. E17
2 An old-fashioned, stupid, or inactive person or institution. colloquial. L19
The poor, pathetic, utterly abused dodo! Until its discovery by European sailors in 1598, the dodo had lived a benign, carefree life on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. And then we showed up; within one-hundred years of its first contact with humans, it was extinct. Human beings - let us collectively take a bow.
As is typical for animals that exist with no natural predators, the dodo lacked any innate fear of humans, and was therefore caught completely by surprise when Portuguese sailors rolled up onto its paradisaic island and started feasting upon its bountiful (if rather distasteful) meat. Even worse, the sailors brought with them an entire bevy of even less discriminating predators - cats, dogs, pigs and rats. The dodo was so naive to the dire threat it now faced that, when one was trapped and in distress, its terrified cries of alarm did little more than bring all the other dodos in the area waddling over to see what all the fuss was about; hunting them was like shooting dodos in a barrel of a fish, and thus the plethora of predators now prowling the island made short, bloody and indiscriminate work of their species.
As if our real-world brutalising of this poor bird wasn't enough, we have continued to add lexical insult to existential injury through our language, as we relish in our avicidal handiwork with expressions like as dead as a dodo. Also, in reference to something outdated, old-fashioned or obsolete, we sometimes say that something has gone the way of the dodo, as if it was the poor bird's fault for not keeping up with the times and immediately adapting to flesh-hungry sailors marauding all over its island with their predatory mammals in tow. Our disdain even extends to its name - dodo coming from 'fool' or 'simpleton' in Portuguese. Because, apparently, it was all the dodo's fault for being so stupid.
Do please leave your most aviphilic comments in the bird box below.