The cassowary is the most fearsome and deadly bird on the planet. They are capable of mortally wounding those who disturb them with their sharp claws. Thanks to research, they recently discovered that 18,000 years ago, humans raised them as chickens.
18,000 years ago, man bred cassowaries
In the Pleistocene they collected the eggs of these large birds. The purpose was to raise them in captivity, millennia before man domesticated chickens. So suggests Kristina Douglass, researcher and one of the authors of this study.
That study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Cassowaries are considered to be the most dangerous birds still in existence. That is why the discovery astonishes science.
However, the cassowary shares with the goose one characteristic. The first thing they see when they hatch, they identify as their mother. This makes the rearing of these giant chicks easier to manage.
It’s a giant bird considered a living dinosaur
The cassowary is considered a living dinosaur. It can reach just under 2 meters in height and weigh more than 50 kilograms. Although it flees in the presence of humans, it is very territorial, aggressive and dangerous if it feels threatened.
Being such a gigantic bird, its weight does not allow it to fly. When it becomes aggressive because of a threat, it is capable of tearing its rivals apart with its powerful kicks. Its sharp claws measure 10 centimeters and have caused the death of many people.
The cassowary is native to New Guinea, where the study was conducted. The first humans to inhabit the island arrived 42,000 years ago. These first inhabitants encountered these fearsome and irritable birds when they came to the island. They looked for a way to take advantage of the situation.
An investigation that was based on discoveries made by archaeologists
Archaeologists collected artifacts and bird remains from rocky sites on the island that served as shelters for early settlers. The finds were deposited in the National Museum and Art Gallery of Papua New Guinea.
Among what was collected were more than a thousand fragments of cassowary eggs. Researchers discovered that these eggs were brought there for captive breeding. Looking closely at the eggs, they found that many were cooked.
However, other fragments suggest that many eggs did hatch. That is, the chicks hatched, which determines that they were raised as chicks. These shells date between 9,000 and 11,000 years old.
Today the indigenous people who inhabit the island, place great value on the meat and feathers of the cassowary. Many groups still raise these giant birds by collecting eggs they find on the island. They do this for commercial and ritual purposes.
However, it is not easy to collect eggs of this bird. The nests are always guarded by irritable and very aggressive males. Although it is not excluded that the first inhabitants have devised diversionary maneuvers to take the eggs.