Dodos, best known for being dead and, well, dumb, may not have been total doofuses. A study published last week suggests that the birds had brains of about the same relative size as a modern pigeon’s. Brain size is far from everything in the intelligence game, so for all we know these birds were still total bozos. But the research highlights just how little we know about the biology of the birds we ate into extinction.

Raphus cucullatus disappeared forever in 1662, less than 30 years after humans first set up permanent camp on their native island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. Not long before then, sailors who visited the island started hunting the birds. Because people were able to keep them docile and overfed until slaughtering time, our lasting impression of the dodo is of a lumbering, fatally stupid flightless beast. In reality, they were probably easy to herd onto ships because they had never encountered humans and didn’t know enough to fear us – and they looked comically plump because sailors fattened them up.

“I was not on a mission to redeem the dodo, but that’s what it turned out to be,” said the new study’s lead author, Eugenia Gold, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History’s Richard Gilder Graduate School.

Gold first CT-scanned a dodo specimen – which are rare, even in natural history museum collections – as part of a project for her dissertation. She quickly noticed that the size of the long-dead creature’s brain case suggested a brain of about the same size (relative to body mass) that one would see in modern pigeons. The dodo is technically a kind of pigeon, but it’s not usually associated with its flying cousins.