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(vertebrate zoology)
A family of birds in the order Columbiformes that included the dodo (Raphus calcullatus); completely extirpated during the 17th and early 18th centuries.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a family of birds of the order Columbiformes that became extinct in the 17th-18th centuries. The Raphidae were flightless birds about the size of a goose (they weighed up to 20 kg), with underdeveloped wings and a heavy beak. They were distributed on the Mascarene Islands (in the Indian Ocean), living in forests in distinct pairs. The birds nested on the ground, laying one large, white egg. Living under island conditions, without powerful enemies, they lost the ability to defend themselves. The Raphidae became very trusting, and when the islands were colonized, they were quickly exterminated, mainly by the hogs brought to the island by man. The family Raphidae comprised three species: the dodo, the Réunion solitaire [in Russian, the white dodo], and the Rodrigues solitaire. The dodo (Raphus cucullatus) lived on the island of Mauritius. The last known reference to it is from 1681. There is a drawing of the bird by the artist R. Savery (done in 1628). The Reunion solitaire (Raphus apterornis) lived on the island of Reunion and became extinct about 1750. The Rodrigues solitaire (Pezophaps solitarius) lived on the island of Rodrigues and became extinct after 1761.


Hachisuka, M. The Dodo and Kindred Birds. London, 1953.
Lüttschwager, J. Die Drontenvögel. Wittenberg (Lutherstadt), 1961. (Die Neue Brehm-Bücherei, fasc. 276.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.