impending doom, part two: the cassowary


An astute reader pointed out that I could be maimed by a cassowary during my visit to Australia. Although this is highly unlikely, I will be visiting Cairns, which is listed as one of the places a person might see the Southern cassowary in the wild.

This creature is a good reminder that birds evolved from dinosaurs – look at its crest and nasty clawed feet. It’s related to the ostrich and emu and can grow up to two meters tall. That means if you grabbed a good long Eastern brown snake by the neck and held it up to a large specimen of cassowary and dangled the snake down to the ground — possibly the worst idea ever conceived — they would match in length.

The bird’s three-toed foot has a “lethal dagger-like claw up to 12 cm (4.7 in) on the inner toe.” These claws are “capable of killing humans and dogs if the bird is provoked.” Lots of good information on the bird at this site. This species is endangered, and if I see one (and survive) I’ll make a donation to a project to keep them alive. Maybe even if I don’t see one.

cassowary - wet tropics management authority

(Above photo by WTMA)



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