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12 surprising flightless birds

By: Jaymi Heimbuch on June 2, 2017, 11:34 a.m.
This species of cassowary is also known as the double wattled cassowary.

Photo: Worakit Sirijinda/Shutterstock

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For a moment you may think you're looking at a rendering of a prehistoric dinosaur in the midst of evolving into a bird. But it is actually a modern species — the noble (and kind of scary) cassowary.

There are three species of cassowary — the southern cassowary, the northern cassowary and the dwarf cassowary — all of which are native to New Guinea and Australia. The one shown here is the southern cassowary, also known as the double wattled cassowary for its two wattles hanging from its neck.

Apparently "death by cassowary" is one of the worst ways to leave this world. Because the bird is flightless, it has extra strong, well-developed legs, and that means some serious kicking power. These birds are the second heaviest bird behind the ostrich, they have claws on their toes that can grow to 5 inches long, and they can run as fast as 31 miles per hour. These stats basically tell you that the inability to fly does not make this bird any less tough! Introduced predators? Pshhhhh! Only those cassowaries habituated to humans are actually dangerous but still, don't mess.