Subfossil remains show the dodo was about 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) tall and may have weighed 10.6–21.1 kg (23–47 lb) in the wild. The dodo's appearance in life is evidenced only by drawn and written accounts from the 17th century. Because these vary considerably, and because only some illustrations are known to have been drawn from live specimens, its exact appearance in life remains unresolved. Similarly, little is known with certainty about its habitat and behaviour. It is presumed that the dodo became flightless because of the ready availability of abundant food sources and a relative absence of predators on Mauritius.
The first recorded mention of the dodo was by Dutch sailors in 1598. In the following years, the bird was hunted by sailors, domesticated animals, and invasive species. The last widely accepted sighting of a dodo was in 1662. The extinction of the dodo within less than a century of its discovery called attention to the previously unrecognised problem of human involvement in the disappearance of entire species. The dodo has become a fixture in popular culture, often as a symbol of extinction and obsolescence. It is frequently used as a mascot on Mauritius.
The dodo was a bird that lived on Mauritius. As Mauritius had no native mammals, it had never learned to fear land-based predators; thus humans, who enjoyed eating the bird's meat, were able to hunt it to a swift extinction. In the 1770s, Victor Radcliff supposed that the honkers and oil thrushes of Atlantis would meet the same fate before long.
In 1843, John Audubon lamented that no live specimens of the dodo were extant. Edward Harris tried to console him by pointing out that the politicians of Hanover, Atlantis were a reasonable facsimile.