As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday, 19 September 2016

World’s Biggest Birds Are Stellar Dads and Unusual Lovers

When it comes to child care and mating, ostriches, emus, and the like are, well, odd ducks.

By Liz Langley


When Nathan Young asked “What’s the difference between an emu and an ostrich?” Weird Animal Question of the Week decided to explore the whole group to which those birds belong, the flightless ratites.

As you’ll see, these birds are odd ducks (though there isn’t a duck in the bunch).

Big Birds Don’t Fly
The ratites include African ostriches and emuscassowaries, and kiwis, all of the South Pacific and greater and lesser rheas of South America.

All ratites lack a keel, or an extension of the breastbone where flight muscles attach, says Rebecca Kimball, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Florida.

Kimball was co-author on a 2008 study showing that ratites likely lost the ability to fly independently of one another, rather than losing flight much earlier and getting to their diverse locations via continental drift, as previously thought.

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