Wild and dangerous: the cassowary conundrum

Wild ways to die:

Because Mother Nature can be scary as hell.

This is a weekly feature that examines the bizarre and deadly forces of nature. If it takes your life, or strikes fear into the hearts of men – it’s probably Ray Lewis. But for everything else, we’ve got it covered. So join us here at the Advocate, as we explore the awe inspiring wonders of our natural world. And then soil our pants.

Mauled by a cassowary

Who would believe the first entry would be about a stupid bird? Of all the deadly creatures on this planet, the last thing most people expect to be killed by is some obscure tropical bird. So why the entry then? Because the cassowary is a creature that can best be described as the demonic cross between Big Bird and a Velociraptor.

Allow us to elaborate.

The cassowary is a rare, flightless ratite that lives on the first continent you would expect to contain outlandish and deadly stuff: Australia. It can grow to heights of 6 feet, weigh up to 150 pounds, and ranks third in bird sizes, just behind the ostrich and the emu. And if that weren’t enough, the cassowary also holds the distinguished honor of being considered the deadliest bird on the planet by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Aside from being insanely aggressive when pissed off by humans (which is, apparently, all the time) the cassowary also possess a set of dagger-like claws on it’s feet, which the bird can then use to leap into the air and flying-kick-stab people, Bruce Lee style. Did we mention they can jump up to 5 feet high? Regarding the cassowary’s sharp feet, renowned ornithologist Thomas E. Gillard points out (see what we did there?) in his book “Living Birds of the World,” “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.”

Emphasis on “murderous nail” and “eviscerate.” But don’t take our word for it, just watch them in action below. If that weren’t enough, these things can also attain running speeds of up to 30 mph and are skilled swimmers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YA58sS3x2Oo

Don’t let the earlier comparison to Big Bird fool you: they’re not kid friendly.

In 1926, two Australian brothers, ages 13 and 16, encountered a strange bird wandering around their property one day. Like any normal group of boys, they saw the creature and immediately decided that whacking the hell out of it with sticks was a good idea. The cassowary, probably not too thrilled with this plan, responded to the threat by kicking the youngest boy away before directing its wrath towards the older brother. After charging the older boy and knocking him to the ground, the bird then stomped his neck severing his carotid artery, killing him.

In total, there have been 150 documented cases of physical attacks by cassowaries against humans. But despite its nasty reputation, experts say the cassowary is actually a shy bird (because nothing says “shy” like disemboweling someone) – it just has a deadly temper when provoked. You know, like the Hulk.

Regardless of whether or not the cassowary is shy, we here at the Advocate believe getting eviscerated by Big Bird’s evil cousin is not on our to-do list. As such, we will most likely be avoiding Australia for the rest of our lives.

Image courtesy of Opencage.