A terracotta sculpture of a dodo
20th century, sculpted by Carlo Bellini for a terracotta factory in Tuscany
H. 49 x L. 62 x D. 42 cm
As no complete dodo specimens exist, its external appearance, such as plumage and colouration, is hard to determine. Illustrations and written accounts of encounters with the dodo between its discovery and its extinction (1598–1662) are the primary evidence for its appearance. According to most representations, the dodo had greyish or brownish plumage, with lighter primary feathers and a tuft of curly light feathers high on its rear end. The head was grey, the beak green, black and yellow, and the legs were stout and yellowish, with black claws. A study of the few remaining feathers on the Oxford specimen’s head showed that they were pennaceous rather than plumaceous (downy) and most similar to those of other pigeons.