When it comes to child care and mating, ostriches, emus, and the like are, well, odd ducks.
By Liz Langley
PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 3, 2016
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 emus, cassowaries, 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.