Dodo skeleton up for auction could sell for €500,000

There are a handful of the bird's skeletons left in the world

Dodo skeleton up for auction could sell for €500,000

A rare fragment of a Dodo femur bone is displayed for photographs next to an image of a member of the extinct bird species at Christie's auction house in London in 2013 | Image: Matt Dunham / AP/Press Association Images

The first Dodo skeleton in nearly 100 years is going up for sale.

The bird, a relative of the pigeon, has been extinct for well over three centuries.

The fossils could reach up to stg£500,000 (€585,464) when they go to auction in November.

Auction house Summer Place Auctions says: "There are no more than a handful of dodo skeletons in the museums of the world."

"The iconic status of the dodo has ensured that such relics have achieved an almost mythical regard."

Only bones, paintings and drawings - produced in the 17th century - remain to give people an indication of what the bird actually looked like.

The first Dutch fleet arrived on Mauritius during 1598, and within 60 or 70 years the dodo was believed to be extinct.

"The living creature did not long survive the arrival of man on its island home," the auctioneer adds.

The skeletal pieces up for auction are in two separate lots: the pelvis bone and a leg bone. The leg is the first complete leg bone to be sold at auction since 1934.

The leg (left) and pelvis (right) bone of the Dodo | Image: Summer Place Auctions

They were found in the Mare aux Songes, Mauritius during the 1860s - when excavations were carried out by a local schoolmaster named George Clarke.

Mr Clarke sent many of his finds to London, where most were acquired by Richard Owen for the British Natural History Museum.

Dodo expert Errol Fuller has assessed the bones.

He explains why he thinks the extinct bird creates so much interest.