The last dodo bird died 300 years ago, but one of the last specimens, which inspired the author of “Alice in Wonderland” to write the timeless children’s book, was likely murdered in cold blood.
Lewis Carroll’s dodo, also known as the Oxford dodo, is displayed at the England-based Oxford University Museum of Natural History. A group of scientists examined the remains of the bird to solve a mystery that has been puzzling researchers for years.
The team used a micro-computed tomography scanner on the bird. The scans revealed strange fleck marks in the back of its head and neck. A closer analysis showed that the marks were caused by small lead pellets.
This suggests that the killer shot the flightless bird from behind and killed it.
Researchers unveiled the findings April 20, 2018.
How Lewis Carroll’s Dodo Died
The director of the museum that hosts the bird, Paul Smith, said the discovery was a total surprise. Curators initially thought that that the Oxford dodo first arrived in England’s capital city in 1638 as an exotic curiosity when it was still alive. At the time, rich English visitors would pay to see it.
It was widely believed that the bird died in captivity of natural causes before John Tradescant the Elder bought its remains and donated them to the museum. However, since that performing bird was never killed, why did the Oxford dodo have fleck marks on its body?
Scientists found that the lead pellets did not penetrate the bird’s skull. However, the shots did kill the dodo.
This is a flightless bird, so obviously, somebody snuck up behind the poor thing and just shot it in the head,
noted researcher Mark Williams of the WMG, University of Warwick.