Researchers have revealed that dodos, the extinct flightless bird upon which a certain insult is based, weren’t as dumb as commonly believed. The assertion follows an analysis of a dodo’s brain structure and size, the results of which hint at an intelligence level akin to that of pigeons. While the brain was small, it matched the birds’ average body size and indicated an exceptional sense of smell.
The study was performed on a preserved dodo skull acquired from a museum’s collection; researchers looked at the brain’s size in relation to that of other birds. Doing so reveals the dodo was probably about as smart as the ordinary pigeons you see flying around.
While that’s interesting, the researchers also discovered that dodos probably had an atypically high sense of smell. Researchers believe that was the case due to a large olfactory region of the brain — something that probably came in handy when it was time to find something to eat.
Dodos have been extinct for hundreds of years, and unfortunately were driven to that point because of humans hunting them, something that happened in excess because the birds didn’t have a fear of humans (due to having never seen them until the 1500s). The lack of fear was likely misunderstood as stupidity, leading to their longstanding reputation and ultimate demise.