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The most dangerous 'prehistoric' bird in the world that can be seen on the Costa del Sol
Nature

The most dangerous 'prehistoric' bird in the world that can be seen on the Costa del Sol

With black plumage, a blue head, razor-sharp claws and strong legs, it is one of the most curious and dangerous species cared for by Bioparc Fuengirola

Raquel Merino

Monday, 6 May 2024, 18:50

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If there were still prehistoric birds flying in the sky, they would probably look a lot like the cassowary. The little evolution that this species has undergone over thousands of years allows us to see in it features of birds from the time of the dinosaurs. "Its atrophied wings, its barely developed feathers, its claw-like nails" all make it special, as Antonio Garrucho, head of zoology at Bioparc Fuengirola pointed out.

It is precisely in this centre in Fuengirola where you can see the cassowary, considered to be the most dangerous bird in the world. This flightless bird is one of the largest in the animal kingdom, after the ostrich and the emu, the latter belonging to the same family, the Casuariidae. It can reach up to two metres in height.

In addition to their wingspan, their strength lies in their powerful, sharp claws, especially the central one, which is about 12 centimetres long. They are good swimmers and can jump up to almost two metres, but they are especially known for their speed - they can reach up to 50 km/h. And, although they are solitary and fairly peaceful animals, if provoked they can respond aggressively and finish off the threat without too much trouble. "They attack by kicking forward, and their strength and long claws can cause very serious injuries and even death," said Bioparc.

This is why this conservation centre has special and strict protocols for the care of the cassowaries. Every day, the team in charge of their care works on their diets, cleaning the enclosures, training and observing them. "The keeper must observe where they are, as their behaviour changes a lot depending on whether they are in heat, incubating.... He or she must know the species very well," said Antonio Garrucho. Very important: maintaining the animal-caretaker bond that allows them to be treated peacefully and without attacks.

Threatened species

The cassowary is native to Papua New Guinea and Australia. Here, its populations are facing a continuous decline, mainly due to the destruction of their natural habitats. As a result, the species is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List, while other institutions, such as the Australian government, consider it "highly threatened".

As for its appearance, in addition to its large, sharp claws, it has black plumage, a deep blue head and a bony-cartilaginous crest that allows it to break tree branches when it runs through the forest.

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