What is the dodo’s clos­est liv­ing rel­a­tive?

Focus-Science and Technology - - Q&A - PIPPA NEIL­SON, ST AL­BANS

The dodo’s clos­est rel­a­tive was the Ro­drigues soli­taire, a large bird that lived on the is­land of Ro­drigues in the In­dian Ocean. But that’s also ex­tinct. Those two formed their own group, which was equally re­lated to all pi­geons. So there isn’t a sin­gle liv­ing species the dodo was clos­est to. Their group branched off from the pi­geon fam­ily be­fore the pi­geon fam­ily ra­di­ated. Some records ( bit.ly/ nico­bar_pi­geon) list the Ni­co­bar pi­geon as the clos­est liv­ing rel­a­tive of the dodo. This is based on ge­netic com­par­i­son, which is more re­li­able than in­fer­ring re­la­tion­ships from phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics.

The Ni­co­bar pi­geon is an is­land spe­cial­ist, and is mostly found in South­east Asia and the western Pa­cific

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