Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another Fabulous Animal: The Ostrich

Whoever says that birds are not descended from dinosaurs, needs only to take a look at the Ostrich to know they are wrong, wrong, wrong. About the only thing this bird has in common with other birds is it's egg-laying capabilities. Other than that, it's essentially a Gallimimus with some feathers.

So, the quick and dirty: the Ostrich is the largest bird in the world, a cousin of the nearly as large Emu, and related to Kiwis and other such flightless birds (not penguins though). These guys can grow to nearly 10 feet tall, weigh more than a sumo wrestler, and can beat a horse in a footrace. Most people already know that they lay the largest eggs of any bird, averaging around 6 inches long.

Contrary to what cartoons say, when an ostrich feels threatened, it doesn't stick its head into the ground, but rather lies flat, or runs like the dickens. They live in communities and travel together, but when held entirely in captivity, it is very possible for them to be unable to court other birds; however, they may try their tricks on humans.

These creatures are ever fascinating, one of the last species of flightless birds in an order where most have died off (such as the "Elephant Bird", Aepyornis). They have long been adored for their luxurious feathers and tough leather, but to a greater extent they give us a real glimpse into the past. We have, living on this planet, such a close relative to the ancient beasts of prehistoric times, and we should appreciate them as they are; walking history. And come on, they're pretty cute too.

The Ostrich
More About the Ostrich
More About Flightless Birds

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