(ORDO NEWS) — If you’re having a hard time understanding how birds evolved from dinosaurs, just take a look at the ostrich.
Not only are they the largest living birds in the world, but they are also the fastest land animals on two legs. Here are a few facts worth knowing about flightless monsters.
1 – Ostriches once lived on two continents
Before humans became a serious threat, ostriches could be found in Asia, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Today they are limited to the forests and savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa.
2 – Ostriches are the largest birds on Earth…
This is one of the birds you don’t want to run into in a dark alley: ostriches can weigh up to 145 kilograms and reach nearly three meters in height (much of which is on their powerful legs).
They tower a meter above the emu, the second tallest bird up to two meters tall, and heavier than the second largest bird, the cassowary, by almost 90 kg.
3 – … with the biggest eyes
The eyes of an ostrich are not only the largest of all birds, they are the largest of all animals on land!! Each eye measures about 5 centimeters in diameter. It is the size of a billiard ball and even larger than a bird’s own brain.
4 – Ostriches Are Incredibly Fast
Ostriches are the fastest bipeds on Earth. In quick bursts, they can reach a top speed of 70 km/h, but what is even more impressive is their endurance: the ostrich is able to run at a speed of 48 km/h for 16 km at a time, making it one of the best long-distance runners.
5 – Ostriches use their wings as rudders
Nature has taught us that wings and feathers can be useful for more than just flying. In the case of the ostrich, they are used as rudders to maneuver their bodies as they move at high speed.
When turning or zigzagging as they run, ostriches rely on their wings to stay in balance and in control. This useful adaptation could help us better understand why dinosaurs, the prehistoric forerunners of modern birds, grew feathers before they could fly.
6 – People ride ostriches, although not always successfully
In the US, ostrich racetracks began to appear throughout Florida in the late 19th century. Light tourists could pay 50 cents to climb on the creature’s back and try to ride it.
Today, Canterbury Park in Minnesota, USA hosts the annual “Extreme Racing Day”, where people race ostriches along with camels and zebras. Holding on is half the battle.
7 – Ostrich feathers were once in fashion
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, ostriches were valued for their long, luxurious feathers. Boas, fans, hats and capes for women were sewn from them.
At their peak, ostrich feathers were worth almost as much as diamonds. Today, ostrich feathers are more a symbol of tackiness than class, but they are still widely used to make clothes.
8 – And finally: ostriches do not hide their heads in the sand
In fact, it’s such a common move that it’s become its own cliché. But it turns out that this comical picture has no basis.
While the tiny head of a crouching ostrich may appear to disappear when viewed from a distance, rest assured that everything remains above the surface.
This myth probably originated from the fact that ostriches take care of their eggs in their own way. Some ostrich nests are up to 60 cm deep, and when they bend down to turn their eggs, it’s easy to see how someone from afar might mistake this for burying their heads.
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