The Dodo and the Solitaire

The Dodo and the Solitaire

A Natural History
Jolyon C. Parish
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/03/2012
Format: Hardback 20 color illus., 200 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-00099-6
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The Dodo and the Solitaire is the most comprehensive book to date about these two famously extinct birds. It contains all the known contemporary accounts and illustrations of the dodo and solitaire, covering their history after extinction and discussing their ecology, classification, phylogenetic placement, and evolution. Both birds were large and flightless and lived on inhabited islands some 500 miles east of Madagascar. The first recorded descriptions of the dodo were provided by Dutch sailors who first encountered them in 1598—within 100 years, the dodo was extinct. So quickly did the bird disappear that there is insufficient evidence to form an entirely accurate picture of its appearance and ecology, and the absence has led to much speculation. The story of the dodo, like that of the solitaire, has been pieced together from fragments, both literary and physical, that have been carefully compiled and examined in this extraordinary volume.

Author Bio

Jolyon C. Parish completed a degree in Geology and Palaeontology at the Royal School of Mines, Imperial College, London, and wrote his D.Phil. at Oxford on the evolutionary history and paleobiology of Ankylosauria.


“The story of the dodo, like that of the solitaire, has been pieced together from fragments, both literary and physical, which are carefully compiled in this extraordinary volume.”

“A labor of love. There is great value in having all of this information in one, succinct package. This book is the definitive work on the subject.”
 — Jeffrey D. Stilwell, Monash University

“Written in comprehensive detail, it is dense with an amazing amount of history, references, facts, maps, and illustrations.”
 — Library Journal

“The story of the dodo, like that of the solitaire, has been pieced together from fragments, both literary and physical, that have been carefully compiled and examined in this extraordinary volume.”
 — Birdbooker Report

“Parish’s historical account on these enigmatic birds ranks . . . amongst the most complete works on the Mascarene birds and will remain so for a very long time. If you have any interest in natural history . . . you should definitely consider reading Parish’s concise volume on one of the most extraordinary birds with one of the most extraordinary stories.”
 — Priscum

“It’s depressing to contemplate that two extinct species could be summed up in a single book—but if it must be so, it should definitely be a book as magnificent as this one. The Dodo and the Solitaire is a large, handsome book that offers as complete a record as is now possible of these two birds...”
 — 10,000 Birds

“Parish is intentionally cautious not to draw firm conclusions on the many debates regarding the biology, physiology and history of the Dodo. He prefers to restrict himself to countering arguments and debunking myths, often without offering a succinct alternative. While a source of frustration to a reader accustomed to digesting information in an 'introduction-supporting data-conclusion' format, this will ultimately prove one of the books greatest strengths. By refusing to wade into the debates, Parish has crafted a book that will firmly resist obsolescence. ”

“This book is the best source yet on these most familiar of extinct creatures. . . . Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

“…[A] magnificent, liberally illustrated book in quarto. . .not likely to be surpassed—of two tragic victims of history.”
 — Svenska Dagbladet

“Parish’s magnificent, comprehensive tome compares very favourably indeed with its illustrious predecessors  […] For me, the unique way Parish’s book compares, contrasts, and focuses upon the historical accounts (translated into English when the originals were in other languages) gives a vitality to the dodo’s life story. It is as if the reader is witnessing at first hand this hapless, helpless bird’s fascinating but tragically brief existence […] The publisher has spared no expense on layout, illustrations or paper quality. This book is a thing of beauty in its own right that no ebook could compete with […] This is a wonderful, definitive treatment of the dodo and solitaire.”
 — Fortean Times

“As an up-to-date and comprehensive review of everything we know about the dodo and solitaire . . . this book will be enjoyed, and sought after, by an enormous readership. It deserves high praise indeed. ”
 — Journal of Verterbrate Paleontology

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A Melancholy Visage
Note on Translations
Notes on the Text
List of Abbreviations
1. Written Accounts of the Dodo
2. Written Accounts of the Rodrigues Solitaire
3. Contemporary Illustrations
4. Secondary Contemporary Sources and Miscellanea
5. Anatomical Evidences
6. The Natural History of the Dodo and the Solitaire
7. Afterword: Memories of Green

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