Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Sunday, October 30, 2011

"The Natives Here Just Treat Them Like Big Chickens"

The Dwarf Cassowary, Casuarius bennetti, also known as the Bennett's Cassowary, Little Cassowary, Mountain Cassowary, or Mooruk, is the smallest of the three species of cassowaries The scientific name commemorates the Australian naturalist George Bennett. He was the first scientist to examine these birds after a few were brought to Australia aboard a ship. Recognising them as representing a new species of cassowary, he sent specimens back to England where this was confirmed. On the west side of Geelvink Bay, western Irian, there exist a distinctive form that may merit a split. C. papuanus is the tentative name. Finally there are no officially recognized sub-species, however, some authors believe there should be.

The Karam of the New Guinea Highlands identify bats and flying birds as one classification (yaket), and the Dwarf Cassowary, an extremely large wingless, flightless bird as another classification (kobtiy). Whereas yaket are bony with wings and fly in the air, kobtiy are bony without wings and are terrestrial and of the forest. Kobtiy are different from other bony wingless animals in that the kobtiy are not quadrupedal, like dogs and lizards, and are not limbless, like snakes.
John Gould first identified the Dwarf Cassowary from a specimen from New Britain, in 1857
Male and Female Dwarf Cassowaries, Males are
About three feet tall, females are larger, up to 4 1/2 feet.

It is a large, at between 99 to 135 cm (3.2 to 4.4 ft) tall and 18 kilograms (39.7 lb), flightless bird with hard and stiff black plumage, a low triangular casque, pink cheek and red patches of skin on its blue neck. The feet are large and powerful, equipped with dagger-like claws on the inner toe. Both sexes are similar. Females have longer casques, brighter bare skin color and are larger in size.
Range and habitat: The Dwarf Cassowary is distributed throughout mountain forests of New Guinea, New Britain and Yapen Island, at elevations up to 3300 m (10,826.8 ft). In areas without other species of cassowaries, it will live in the lowlands also. Its diet consists mainly of fallen fruits and small animals, and insects. A solitary bird, it pairs only in breeding season Conservation Due to ongoing habitat loss, habitat degradation, being hunted for food, and often being kept in captivity, the Dwarf Cassowary is evaluated as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with an occurrence range of 258000 km² (99,614.4 sq mi).
 External links
BirdLife Species Factsheet

The range of Dwarf Cassowaries is particularly discontinuous and for that reason there should be A) more subspecies allowed due to the peculiar distribution, or B) an allowance made that the natives must have shipped them off to widely-spaced islands at differernt times. The dwarf cassowaries are at home in the mountain ranges down the middle of New Guinea but they are also found at different islands North of New Guinea at the middle and at both the East and West ends of the islands, and at the time of discovery individuals were found in Northern Auistralia and in the Philippines. Karl Shuker in his book The Beasts That Hide From Men notes the odd distribution and says that Natives must have shipped them around as domesticated or semi-domesticated animals in earlier times, and that odd out-of-place big birds have been represented historically at Angkor Wat and in Indonesia (Java and Borneo) Prior to his statement I was considering that several reports of dwarf cassowaries further to the East in Melanesia might count as unknown animals, but it seems that all instances relate to the same cause. I believe that they are mostly called bu the same or similar names, since "Mooru" sounds about like "Moa"

Several of the internet descriptions of the dwarfed cassowaries emphasize their tame nature in regards to human habitations, saying that they will enter houses and move about in them as if they are quite accoustomed to do so.One site describes their flesh being used in ceremonies in exactly the same manner as they treat their pigs. And one of the sites describing the problems in conservation for the species says that although foreigners are not permitted to take the birds out of the country any more, the natives are allowed to hunt them and kill them with impunity. "The Natives here just treat them like big chickens" the author complains.

That is probably more literally true than the author meant to say, or at least it was more true in the past. Among the varieties of animals domesticated in the Lemurian realm (which includes the Indian elephant and Water buffalo), we must also include their "Big Chickens", the small cassowaries which they managed to transport over thousands of miles of sea in their boats.

Best Wishes, Dale D.


  1. Very nearly the same exact wording as quoted here on the dwarf casowaries is found on several different internet sites, including absolute astronomy, the Wikipedia and several of the internet reference sources on bird life.


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