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Illegal pigeon hunting across Samoa is risking the extinction of the countrys national bird: the little dodo or manumea. Will this little-known island pigeon suffer the same fate as its namesake?
Nearly two hundred years after the extinction of the dodo, Sir William Jardin- a Scottish naturalist and bird-aficionado- described another odd, bulky, island pigeon. From the island of Samoa, this one was distinguished by a massive, curving bill that sported tooth-like serrations on its lower mandible. Dedicated the strangeness of the animal, Jardine defined it in its own genus and dubbed it Didunculus- the little dodo. Genetic evidence has since confirmed that the tooth-billed pigeon- or little dodo- is one of the closest living relatives of its long-deceased namesake. Today, the little dodo is at the very precipice of extinction, but it remains nearly as cryptic and little known as it did when Jardin dedicated it a scientific name in 1845.
The little dodo” is the last surviving species in its genus ,” Rebecca Stirnemann said.” The Fijian and Tongan species[ of the little dodo] are both extinct. It is the national bird of Samoa and appears in many of the stories often in association with chiefs .”