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Rare dodo skeleton to be sold at auction

Although it was a bird, it could not fly and it was said to have existed only in Mauritius in the late 16th and early 17th century, last seen by Dutch sailors at around that time on the island. Soon after the early sightings, it became, well, as “dead as a dodo”.

The flightless birds were about 1m tall and it has been suggested that they would have weighed between 10kg and 20kg and as far as we are aware, just one skeleton made from the bones of a single dodo still exists and this is on the island of Mauritius.

However, there could be another example, according to Rupert van der Werff, Summers Place Auctions director, he is reported to have been given instructions from somebody saying they had the skeleton of a dodo and he said: “we didn’t really quite believe it”, well you’d better believe it because it is coming into your auction rooms, at Summers Place Auctions, West Sussex, in November.

The skeleton is 95% complete and was carefully pieced together over decades by the seller, just missing part of the head and one set of claws, he has, apparently always been interested in the extinct bird. It is believed that he got some bones, found some other bones in auctions, got talking to collectors and came to realise that he was pretty close to having a full skeleton. The Auctioneers are, very understandably reluctant to put a price on the bird, which makes sense as it is not often you see a dodo is it? But, initial figures suggest that it could fetch a six-figure sum when it goes under the hammer. Not literally we hope!

There are some other examples of composite skeletons of the dodo which are held in museums around the world, these have mainly come from bones collected from a Mauritius swamp in 1865. Naturally both the auctioneer and the seller hope it will fetch big money, we will try to let you know after the auction in November.

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