Flightless like thelargest bird that ever lived on earth, there is a bird which looks like a turkey-ostrich crossbreed and is significantly smaller than the former. Yet it is one of the largest birds still alive. Unpredictable and aggressive are the two words that describe it. Zoo keepers find it extremely hard to deal with it, as handling it without getting injured in the process is difficult.
Casuarius casurarius, or simply Cassowary has been named the world’s most dangerous bird in the Guinness Book of Records. Found in the rain forests of Australia and New Guinea, these shy birds can slice you into two pieces with a single fatal kick (slightly exaggerated). Despite its stellar self-defense kicks, it has been unsuccessful in protecting itself from humans. It remains on the endangered species list.
The main reason for its population decline is the clearance of its habitat. Other things that contribute to the decline are deaths from motor vehicles, dog attacks, hunters and wild pigs.
How does it kill? – 3 ways
1. It will chase you down: Cassowary can run at speeds up to 50 kph.
2. 12 cm long claws will rip you:
“The inner or second of the three toes is fitted with a long, straight, murderous nail which can sever an arm or eviscerate an abdomen with ease. There are many records of natives being killed by this bird.” – Wikipedia
3. High Jump: A Cassowary can jump up to a height 1 meter. Remember, at this point, its 12 cm claws can reach a very vulnerable point.
They aren’t demons
In case of an encounter, turn your back and It could kill you. But there is a great chance it won’t if you keep facing it.
Almost everyone who has learned it in school or has experienced a sleepless night listening to a woodpecker make that tat-tat noise, knows that their straight and strong beaks, are indeed able to make heads turn. These chisel-like tools help them to pierce into dead wood where they may find their food – insects and larvae. They also use these bores as nesting cavities. But that isn’t the only fascinating thing about a woodpecker.
Oftentimes, a woodpecker has to use its secret tool to deal with annoying little bugs that evade the reach of its beak by moving further into a bore – The crazy woodpecker tongue.
Present just behind a thick layer of wood are these wood-boring beetles that a woodpecker would love to eat. While hunting for these kind of grubs the strange potential of the woodpecker’s tongue can be noticed. These beetles drill several inches deep into the bore. The woodpecker’s beak helps the bird breach into their homes, but it is only the woodpecker’s tongue that is able to catch and retrieve bugs from deep inside the bores.
A woodpecker’s tongue can reach up to 3 times the length of its beak. It is thin like a spear, and on it are tiny hooks facing up and backwards. The harpoon like tongue can move at incredible speeds and serves two functions – listening and striking. Yes, the tongue can actually listen and track insects inside the bore.
The hooks on its tongue are covered in sticky saliva. This combination of hooks and saliva does not leave a chance for the insects to wriggle off once they are pierced. When the woodpecker’s bill opens up the beetle home, it extends its tongue and probes around to track them. If it locates grubs, the woodpecker skewers the prey with its tongue, the tip of which is hard and sharp. After the tip penetrates the larvae body, the tiny rear-facing hooks hold them in place as the woodpecker retracts its tongue.
Okay! the last mindblow
Sometimes the woodpecker tongue is so long that it forks in the throat, goes below the jaw, then behind the head and finally over the top of its brain, where it rejoins and goes into the right nostril.
Have a nice look at the picture below till I rest my brain for tomorrow’s article.