Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bizarre and Inexplicable

Three hundred and fifty years ago, a three-foot tall, flightless bird lived on the islands of Mauritius off the eastern coast of Africa. Then it vanished. The last reported sighting of the infamous dodo took place in 1662. The famished sailor who saw the last known dodo . . . ate it. In the previous century, the creature had been hunted to the brink of extinction (despite the fact that most agreed that its meat tasted terrible), and animals introduced by European colonists had destroy its nests. Yet the bizarre bird was never forgotten, although until the 19th century, most believed it had been little more than a myth.

Now for the bizarre part. Artist Harri Kallio has created a series of photographs that are meant to show the dodo in its native habitat. To do so, he built life-size models of the bird and recreated its natural surroundings. The results are interesting--and extremely strange. When I first saw the photos, which were published in The New Yorker magazine, I wasn't sure what to make of them. Rather than offer my opinion, I'll let you be the judge. Enjoy. (When you link to the New Yorker website, follow the instructions for starting the slide show.)


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