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The Dodo and the Solitaire: A Natural History

Series: Life of the Past

By: Jolyon C Parish(Author)

417 pages, 16 plates with 21 colour illustrations; 200 b/w illustrations

Indiana University Press

Hardback | Dec 2012 | #194228 | ISBN-13: 9780253000996
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £59.99 $76/€67 approx

About this book

This is the most comprehensive book to date on these two famously extinct birds. It contains all the known contemporary accounts and illustrations of the dodo and solitaire, covering their history after extinction and discussing their ecology, classification, phylogenetic placement, and evolution.

Both birds were large, flightless, and inhabited islands of Mauritius (the dodo) and Rodrigues (the solitaire) some 500 miles east of Madagascar. The first recorded descriptions of the dodo were provided by Dutch sailors who first landed on Mauritius in 1598 – within 100 years, the dodo was extinct. So quickly did the bird disappear that there is insufficient evidence to form an entirely accurate picture of its appearance and ecology, and the absence has led to much speculation. The story of the dodo, like that of the solitaire, has been pieced together from fragments, both literary and physical, that have been carefully compiled and examined in this extraordinary volume.

"Written in comprehensive detail, it is dense with an amazing amount of history, references, facts, maps, and illustrations."
Library Journal

"The story of the dodo, like that of the solitaire, has been pieced together from fragments, both literary and physical, that have been carefully compiled and examined in this extraordinary volume."
Birdbooker Report

"It's depressing to contemplate that two extinct species could be summed up in a single book – but if it must be so, it should definitely be a book as magnificent as this one. The Dodo and the Solitaire is a large, handsome book that offers as complete a record as is now possible of these two birds [...] "
– 10,000 Birds

"A labor of love. There is great value in having all of this information in one, succinct package. This book is the definitive work on the subject."
– Jeffrey D. Stilwell, Monash University

"Parish is intentionally cautious not to draw firm conclusions on the many debates regarding the biology, physiology and history of the Dodo. He prefers to restrict himself to countering arguments and debunking myths, often without offering a succinct alternative. While a source of frustration to a reader accustomed to digesting information in an 'introduction-supporting data-conclusion' format, this will ultimately prove one of the books greatest strengths. By refusing to wade into the debates, Parish has crafted a book that will firmly resist obsolescence."

"This book is the best source yet on these most familiar of extinct creatures [...] Highly recommended."


Introduction: A Melancholy Visage
Notes on the Text
List of Abbreviations

1. Written Accounts: The Dodo
2. Written Accounts: The Rodrigues Solitaire
3. Contemporary Illustrations
4. Secondary Contemporary Sources and Miscellanea
5. Anatomical Evidences
6. The Natural History of the Dodo and Solitaire

Afterword: Memories of Green

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Jolyon Parish took his degree in Geology and Palaeontology at the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London, and wrote his D.Phil. at Oxford on the evolutionary history and paleobiology of Ankylosauria.

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