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Now, a study of its ancient fossils has revealed the extinct flightless pigeon moulted just like modern birds - completely changing its colour with fresh plumage, new research suggests.

Pictured left and right are sections of hindlimb dodo bones showing resorption cavities which are interpreted as evidence of molt Painters showed body hues ranging from from light-blue-grey to a grey-brown - suggesting there may have been a difference between male and female birds.

Study coauthor Dr Delphine Angst said: 'Moulting periods have been previously proposed for the dodo but these are generally unsupported.'The dodo was variably described as having three or four black quills in the place of their wings, and a tail with four or five small curled plumes of a greyish colour.'Some other descriptions of the dodo mention a clothing of downy feathers or even no feathers on their body, which is instead covered in black down.'We propose that mariners may have been describing the dodo at different stages of moult.

Scroll down for video The dodo moulted just like modern birds - completely changing its colour with fresh plumage, new research suggests.

The study explains the extinct bird's moulting stages in paintings based on the accounts of mariners hundreds of years ago Little is known about the life of the dodo, despite it's status as one of the world's most famous extinct species in the history.

For the first time, scientists have unravelled the complete life cycle of the dodo.