A flightless bird like emus and kiwis, cassowaries are found in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Australia. There are three species of cassowary: southern, northern, and dwarf – the pygmy cassowary is now extinct.
A cassowary is the third largest bird, behind only the ostrich and emu. They are found in rain forests and tropical environments where they live alone and are highly territorial.
Cassowaries can live up to four or five decades, however their deaths can be caused by being struck by vehicles or attacked by dogs, and the loss of habitat. Of the three species, it is only the southern cassowary which is currently considered endangered.
Cassowaries prefer to eat fruit but are considered omnivores. They play an essential role in the ecosystem in regards to seed dispersal and germination.
Unlike many bird species it is the female cassowary that is more colourful than the male, with a blue head, and all except the pygmy species have an orange/red neck. All the species have a casque on their head which is made of keratin like the horn of a rhinoceros.
Cassowaries hold the title of world’s deadliest bird for a reason. The most recent human death by a cassowary occurred in Florida in 2019.
The birds are generally solitary and avoid people but will defend themselves against animals and humans when feeling threatened. They are unable to just fly away so instead will kick with their long, powerful legs. Kicks alone can kill a small animal like a dog as they suffer internal injuries from the impact.
But what is really deadly about these birds is their feet, and more specifically the claws attached to their toes. The second claw can grow to 5 inches in length and is sharp enough to puncture skin and sever an artery.
If you’re looking for a killer idea for a badass tattoo then look no further than the cassowary.