This Colorful Pigeon Is the Dodo’s Closest Living Relative

Silvain de Munck via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Silvain de Munck via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 / Silvain de Munck via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The dodo was more prized for its meat than for its beauty. That ended up being the bird's downfall. However, its smaller, more attractive cousin is still around to admire.

According to My Modern Met, the Nicobar pigeon is the closest living relative to the flightless bird that humans drove to extinction over 300 years ago. It’s native to Southeast Asia and small Pacific islands where years of isolation allowed it to develop its brilliant, eye-catching feathers. With no natural predators to worry about as it evolved, the bird could flaunt its plumage without becoming prey.

OZinOH via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Josh More via Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Garret Voight via Flickr // CC BY NC-ND 2.0

Tomfriedel via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 3.0

Cburnett via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

The animal doesn't bear much resemblance to the image of the dodo we're all familiar with, but surviving illustrations may present an unfair depiction. The most famous dodo picture was painted from memory, and other pictures likely show birds that were overfed leading up to their slaughter. So while the dodo was likely no Nicobar pigeon, it may not have been as dumpy as it's remembered to be.

[h/t My Modern Met]