Drumroll please, for…
The dodo’s top secret trick!
Okay I have no evidence that dodos could learn to talk. I totally made that up. But that is kind of the point of the story, or at least was my inspiration for the story. To be more specific, from everything I’ve read about “genius” animals– dogs who know hundreds of words, parrots who can construct sentences, elephants who can paint, crows who can solve puzzles, gorillas who know sign language– the one indisputable uniting thread is the ability of humans to TEACH. These are smart animals, no doubt. But they can do amazing human-like things because if there’s one true thing about humans, it’s that we can figure out ways to understand, empathize with, and communicate with creatures that have nothing in common with us. We’re really good at that.
Dodos may have been smart, or maybe they weren’t. It’s hard to know when we had so little opportunity to interact with them before they were gone.