One of the most iconic animals to ever have gone extinct is the Dodo bird (Raphus cucullatus). Endemic to Mauritius, this flightless species is thought to have been driven to extinction by invasive species brought along by humans and was last sighted around 1662.
Despite their relatively recent extinction, few specimens were found, which makes the dodo-bearing locality of Mare aux Songes – a wetland that lies within the property of Mon Trésor, a most precious site indeed!
It all started in 1865 when George Clark, a Mahébourg schoolmaster, finally found, after searching for thirty years, an abundance of sub fossil dodo bones in the swamp. To prevent Malaria, the swamp was however covered in hard core, taking the site to oblivion until October 2005, when an international team of researchers resumed excavations.
It is in the sedimentary deposits of Mare aux Songes that the international Dodo Research Programme, has been excavating dodo fossils exhibiting exceptional preservation as well as fossils of turtles belonging to the extinct Cylindraspis genus. These findings were made public in December 2005 in the Naturalis museum in Leiden. Further excavations suggested that dodos, along with other animals, were trapped in Mare aux Songes while trying to reach water during a long period of severe drought about 4,200 - 4000 years ago.Today, numerous museums worldwide have significant holdings of dodo material, almost all of which were found in Mare aux Songes.