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Global Ideas

Dodo skeleton fetches thousands at auction

A private collector has paid over $400,000 for a rare dodo skeleton. The dodo died out in the 17th century due to hunting and habitat degradation.

A private collector has forked out 336,100 pounds ($416,300) for an "amazingly rare" dodo skeleton at an auction in London. 

The composite skeleton is 95 percent complete and was meticulously constructed over the years by an enthusiast who began to purchase dodo bones in the 1970s, according to Summers Place Auctions, which in 2013 sold a dinosaur skeleton to the Danish Natural History Museum. Just part of the skull and one set of claws are missing. 

Only one complete dodo skeleton made of the bones of a single animal exists. The rest are composites and are mainly found in museums. The majority of dodo bones were found in the 19th century in the animal's native Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean. The government there has since banned their export. 

Having been immortalized in Lewis Carroll's children's classic, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the large, unusual bird has captured the imagination of many over the years. Its extinction in the 17th century made it the poster child for extinction and humans' negative impact on ecosystems. 

Prior to the arrival of Europeans in the 16th century, it had no predators and the bird had little to fear. It couldn't fly and laid a single, unprotected egg on the ground, which meant it became easy prey for hunters and the invasive species arriving on European vessels, such as rats and cats. 

Watch video 03:14

The Dodo offers a lesson in extinction

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