The scans showed a brain that compared with the body-to-brain ratio of modern pigeons. Unusually, the olfactory bulb of the brain, responsible for processing smells, was particularly large. Dodos, with their diet of fruit, shellfish and small land animals, might have relied heavily on smell for finding food, Gold and her colleagues wrote. In comparison, birds that fly tend to have smaller olfactory bulbs and larger optic bulbs, because they depend more on sight to navigate and to find prey.
Another odd feature was an extreme bend in one of the dodo's semicircular canals. These inner-ear organs are responsible for balance; it's possible, the researchers wrote, that the unique bend was simply a quirk of variability, the result of the semicircular canals being less crucial to a flightless bird than to its flying relatives. But to test that idea, researchers would need to study the semicircular canals of many dodos.
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