As no complete dodo specimens exist, its external appearance, such as plumage and colouration, is hard to determine. ]Illustrations and written accounts of encounters with the dodo between its discovery and its extinction (1598–1662) are the primary evidence for its external appearance. According to most representations, the dodo had greyish or brownish plumage, with lighter primary feathers and a tuft of curly light feathers high on its rear end. The head was grey and naked, the beak green, black and yellow, and the legs were stout and yellowish, with black claws. A study of the few remaining feathers on the Oxford specimen head showed that they were pennaceous rather than plumaceous (downy) and most similar to those of other pigeons.
Subfossil remains and remnants of the birds that were brought to Europe in the 17th century show that dodos were very large birds, up to 1 m (3 ft 3 in) tall. The bird was sexually dimorphic; males were larger and had proportionally longer beaks. Weight estimates have varied from study to study. In 1993, Bradley C. Livezey proposed that males would have weighed 21 kilograms (46 lb) and females 17 kilograms (37 lb). Also in 1993, Andrew C. Kitchener attributed a high contemporary weight estimate and the roundness of dodos depicted in Europe to these birds having been overfed in captivity; weights in the wild were estimated to have been in the range of 10.6–17.5 kg (23–39 lb), and fattened birds could have weighed 21.7–27.8 kg (48–61 lb). A 2011 estimate by Angst and colleagues gave an average weight as low as 10.2 kg (22 lb). This has also been questioned, and there is still controversy over weight estimates. A 2016 study estimated the weight at 10.6 to 14.3 kg (23 to 32 lb), based on CT scans of composite skeletons. It has also been suggested that the weight depended on the season, and that individuals were fat during cool seasons, but less so during hot.
The skull of the dodo differed much from those of other pigeons, especially in being more robust, the bill having a hooked tip, and in having a short cranium compared to the jaws.
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