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For the first time, scientists have unravelled the complete life cycle of the dodo.

Previous evidence for the colour of the flightless birds came in the form of mariners' paintings from the 17th century, when Europeans first visited Mauritius.

The researchers say they have uncovered the 'secret life of the dodo' by exploring its mating behaviour and rapid early growth through fossilised bones.

As well as the discovery that dodos moulted, the landmark new study, published in Scientific Reports, also found the dodo experienced rapid growth rates until it reached sexual maturity.

This is seen in many birds today, including the Japanese quail, the king penguin and the ostrich.

Pictured left and right are sections of hindlimb dodo bones showing resorption cavities which are interpreted as evidence of molt Painters showed body hues ranging from from light-blue-grey to a grey-brown - suggesting there may have been a difference between male and female birds.

Last modified 13-Aug-2017 21:52