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Ratite fever by Pronus Ratite fever by Pronus
When you get down to basics there are just two types of bird. In group one are the ratites consisting of ostriches, emus, rheas, tinamous, kiwis, and cassowaries (above). Into group two goes everything else from penguins to sparrows, condors to cannaries, ducks, hummingbirds and all the thousands of other species. This second group is so large I don't think it even has a name.

The two groups represent the oldest evolutionary split in the bird world. This was at least 56 million years ago, perhaps a consequence of the K-T extinction event that and quite possibly goes back to the the cretacious period, more than 65.5 million years ago when T.rexes still wandered about the place. Despite the fact there are only a handful of ratite species compared with the other group the ratates have all the biggest birds. The king of course is the ostrich though these were small fry comapared to recently extinct ratites. The Moas of New Zealand grew to 12 feet high and weighed 230kg while the gargantuan elephant bird of Madagascar is estimated to have weighed 400 kg or 880 lb. The cassowary is the second biggest bird alive today and can weigh up to 58.5kg (129lbs) and up to 2 metres tall.

With the mysterious casque on their heads, and a shaggy coat that looks more like fur than feathers Cassowaries resemble therapod dinosaurs and are the most feared of all birds. They can run up to 31 mph so there's no chance of out running them and recent documented attacks against people number in the hundreds. When they do catch you they have an lethal elongated dagger-like claw on their feet, a fearsome weapon that has been used to kill at least one person (though in this case the cassowary acted in self-defence). Of course humans are far more dangerous to cassowaries and hunting and habitat destruction means the number of these animals is steadily declining.
ChrisMasna Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Such a beautiful dinosaur.
Great shot!
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March 27, 2013
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