Order Casuariiformes / Emus & Cassowaries

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Order Casuariiformes

Order Casuariiformes includes two families of flightless terrestrial birds that are both native to Australia: emus and cassowaries. Previously, these birds were grouped with kiwis and ostriches, but now they are classified into a separate order due to several features unique to them.

Casuariiformes Pronounciation

Casuariiformes Characteristics

Here are the characteristics of order Casuariiformes:

  • These birds are large and heavy. For instance, the emu can be up to 1.8 meters in height and can weigh 55 kg.
  • In emus and cassowaries, females are usually slightly larger than males;
  • The plumage of Casuariformes is usually brown, while naked skin on head and neck can be colored blue (in emus) or orange/red (in cassowaries).
  • All birds in the order have long, strong legs and equally long necks with relatively small heads.
  • Casuariformes have hair-like feathers that lack secondary branches called barbules.
  • These birds have no differentiated tails or tail feathers.
  • Casuariformes have only three toes, the middle toe on both legs has an elongated and dagger-like claw.
  • Several bones of the skeleton are reduced in all species in the order.
  • They have no keel, as well as the wing bones. Only the collarbone remains, and the humerus is significantly shortened.
  • Their wings are modified into 5 hollow spines.
  • The birds in Casuariiformes order are monogamous.
  • These birds build no nests, and the eggs are laid into depressions in the grass.
  • In the pair, the female lays the eggs, and the male is responsible for their incubation, as well as care for the young hatchlings.
  • The young birds reach maturity in about two years.
  • Cassowaries prefer tropical rainforest and can be aggressive.
  • Emus can live in different conditions, from forests to grasslands.
  • These birds are herbivorous: cassowaries feed on fruit; emus can also eat seeds and grasses.
  • Both cassowaries and emus used to be one of the primary sources of food for Aborigines of Australia and New Zealand.
  • For the white settlers, emus are often considered as pests, as they can eat the crops.

Order Casuariiformes Species

There are few living species in the order:

  • Cassowary, Casuarius casuarius.
  • Casuarius unappendiculatus
  • Casuarius benneti
  • Emu, Dromaius novaehollandiae

There are also several extinct species:

  • Dromauis ocypus
  • Casuarius lydekkeri
  • Hypselornis sivalensis
  • Diogernonis fragilis

There are many birds in Casuariiformes are considered dangerous to humans especially Cassowaries. There were several reported attacks on humans.

Cite this article as: "Order Casuariiformes / Emus & Cassowaries," in Bio Explorer, May 10, 2021, https://www.bioexplorer.net/order-casuariiformes/.

Key References

  • [1] – “Casuariiform | order of birds | Britannica.com”. Accessed June 03, 2019. Link.
  • [2] – “Dromaius novaehollandiae – Emu” – idahofallsidaho.gov. Accessed June 03, 2019. Link.

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