Sunday, January 08, 2006

Dodo Dumb

The dodo is in the news as new fossils have been unearthed on Mauritius, the dodos' home till its extinction. I want to say one quick thing before I study the news:
The dodo has become a synonym for stupid: dumb as a dodo. The bird is extinct, so it must have been stupid. I sure hope whatever gods find our fossils will say the same of us. But those gods would be wrong; just as we are.
Without studying the circumstances particular to the dodo, I just bet that brainpower had nothing to do with their demise. I bet it was simple lack of experience. I bet the dodo was thriving until man arrived on Mauritius. I bet the dodo simply lacked fear of us: and of the cats and rats that accompany us wherever we go.

We should wait another million years, or another few dozen million years, before claiming that anything alive in the Twentieth or Twenty-first centuries survived because it was the fittest: as in "fit" like Arnold Schwarzenegger, as in fit like Hitler's luftwaffe. There's a word that means completely different things to biologists and to the world of political poetic license.

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