Until the 17th century, the tropical forested Island of Mauritius was uninhabited by humans, and the blundering bow beaked Dodo lived in relative peace and harmony.
Enter the Dutch and French – bringing dogs and cats, pigs and rats. Whereby the flightless, fearless Dodo, used to living in isolation, was soon plundered, trampled and scoffed in tropical ignorance until it was all but extinct.
Maybe the bird was too strange for this earth. In any case, the last confirmed sighting of this ostensibly clumsy beast was in Mauritius in 1662, although many dictionaries state it as being 1681.
Some 330 years later, an unknown man walked into a charity shop in Oxford, England, where he dropped off an old book wrapped in a dirty brown package tied with a shoelace.
One rainy afternoon, a few days later, British author Michael Johnson wandered into his local charity shop and bought the book, only to discover it was previously the diary of an Oxford science student, with the last recorded entry being 1683.
The contents reveal the young man was given a dodo by a drunken Dutchman he had met at a pub. Several days later, the Dutchman was found dead, washed up in the Thames. If authentic, the contents would confirm the last known sighting of the flightless chubby islander.
Scientists and historians have since scoffed at the finding, labelling it a “flight of fancy”, which Johnson believes is a distinct possibility. However, that didn’t stop him from publishing a book entitled – ‘A Dodo at Oxford: The Unreliable Account of a Student and His Pet Dodo’.
Not all academics, however, have dismissed the finding. Dr Ringhelm Reading, from the Oxford Investigative Literature Society (OILS), says there is an old tale in town, found rarely in books, of a mysterious drunken Dutchman who owned a strange floating menagerie, which one night took revenge.