A dodo goes up for auction next week, sparking a frenzy of interest that could see the specimen fetch in excess of £500,000. Humans drove the bird into extinction in the 17th Century so rapidly and remorselessly that few traces remain – so how was one collector from the south of England able to construct a near-complete skeleton?

The vendor never actually set out with this particular mission in mind, but has described the moment he realised he could do it – after he mounted the bones he had spent decades collecting into a lifelike pose.

“I finally found myself looking at a dodo in my workshop, something so extraordinary that I hadn’t really imagined it would happen.”

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