A Rare Dodo Skeleton Is Coming Up for Auction

Adriaen van de Venne via Wikimedia // Public Domain
Adriaen van de Venne via Wikimedia // Public Domain / Adriaen van de Venne via Wikimedia // Public Domain

Here’s your chance to own an unusually rare specimen—and a symbol of humanity’s devastation upon the natural world. The Associated Press reports that Summers Place Auctions in Sussex, England, will auction off a composite skeleton of a dodo this November. According to the Independent, few remains of the hapless, flightless bird—once native to the Indian Island of Mauritius—exist today, and the last time a dodo skeleton came up for auction was more than a hundred years ago.

This composite skeleton is 95% complete, according to the BBC, missing only a part of its skull and one set of claws. (The missing pieces have been cast in resin and added to the skeleton, says the Daily Mail.) It took the unnamed collector who assembled the skeleton about 40 years to make his creation, Gizmodo says; he used bits and pieces of bone from private collections and other auctions, most originally taken from the Mare aux Songes swamp in southeastern Mauritius.

Europeans discovered the dodo in 1598 and drove the birds to extinction less than a hundred years later—perhaps partly due to hunting, but in larger measure to the dogs, cats, rats, and other animals Europeans introduced to the area. Today, there’s only one dodo skeleton in the world that’s made up of the bones of a single animal—it’s on display in Port Louis, Mauritius. The country has since banned exports of the bones. In part because so few complete specimens of the bird exist, little is understood about its evolutionary history, although recent DNA research has shown it is related to pigeons.

The auction will take place November 22, although Summers Place says the deadline for entries is September 30. The skeleton is expected to fetch six figures.

[h/t Gizmodo]