When it comes to the collection of flightless birds called ratites, there is an assortment of collorful charactors.

ratites originated from Gondwana (the super continent in the south that once included what is now known as Antarctica, South America, Africa, New Zealand and other locations), there is an assortment of colorful characters to note. Now days, the former puzzle pieces of Gondwana are currently home to or have accommodated ratites in the past

include the Red Neck of northern Africa and the Blue Neck of southern Africa. Interestingly, the ostrich is the only bird with two toes, as other birds possess three or four.

The male is black in color with white wing tips and tail plumes, while the female is a bit smaller and duller in color, displaying light brown and gray plumage.


In Australia, islands in the north, and New Guinea, there are three species of the cassowary that thrive. With a shorter stature than the emu and a rather solid body, cassowaries tend to live in the thick of heavily vegetated tropical forests. When caught off guard or backed into a corner, the shy cassowary poses a threat with sharp claws on their three-toed feet. The middle claw is actually five inches long and cuts deep like a dagger.

A cassowary has the ability to kill enemies with a single kick – sometimes disemboweling all challengers. In densely covered forests, they are able to run up to 32 mph. Today, the three species associated with the cassowary is the Southern (Australia and New Guinea), Northern (New Guinea), and Dwarf (New Guinea and New Britain) varieties.


In South America, the native rhea dwells, which reaches a height of four to five feet tall and weighs between 50 to 80 pounds? Two species of rhea exist – white and common (gray), which are mid-sized and quite fast on foot. The rhea is similar in appearance to the ostrich, showcasing the same sort of feathered neck and head, yet this specimen possesses three toes.


In Australia, the emu can reach heights measuring close to 7 feet tall and a weight of 132 pounds. Thriving in woodlands and the open plains, the emu is a quick and commanding bird. Emus differ in their reproduction habits, as they breed and lay eggs during the winter months, while ostriches and rheas are actively mating and laying eggs in late spring, summer, and early fall.

With soft feathers and brown color, emus are sought after for meat, oil, and leather. A curious fact concerning emus is that they lay dark-green eggs, which unlike other bird eggs are impossible to check in front of a light for fertility and chick growth during incubation.


The kiwi of New Zealand (which is also the national symbol) is the smallest of ratites, measuring about the same size of a chicken. With shy and nightly habits, the kiwi digs a deep nest and uses a strong sense of smell to locate small insects and grubs within the soil. Today, most species of the bird are endangered, which means you are pretty lucky if you spot one of five varieties of the kiwi – Great Spotted, Little Spotted, Rowi, Tokoeka, and North Island Brown.


ratites no longer living today include the "elephant bird" (aepyornis) of Madagascar and the moa of New Zealand. The elephant bird was once the largest bird ever known, as it could reach a weight of more than 1,000 pounds. When it laid eggs, they could measure up to 35 inches in circumference. The moa has been extinct since 1500 because human settlers mercifully hunted the bird. Unlike other ratites, the moa did not have any wings.




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