Order Casuariiformes / Emus & Cassowaries

    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 Page

    BioExplorer.net. (2023, September 28). Order Casuariiformes / Emus & Cassowaries. Bio Explorer. https://www.bioexplorer.net/order-casuariiformes/.
    BioExplorer.net. "Order Casuariiformes / Emus & Cassowaries" Bio Explorer, 28 September 2023, https://www.bioexplorer.net/order-casuariiformes/.
    BioExplorer.net. "Order Casuariiformes / Emus & Cassowaries" Bio Explorer, September 28 2023. 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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