‘The World’s Most Dangerous Bird’ Has Raptor-Like Claws and Has Been Likened to a Dinosaur

January 18, 2021 Updated: January 18, 2021

The cassowary, an Australian bird with long, dangerous claws, is the world’s most dangerous bird.

With a face full of bright-blue plumage, a violet sea-green neck, and a velociraptor-like dagger toenail, the cassowary has been likened to dinosaurs and has been described as a murderous assassin.

In April 2019, a 75-year-old man and owner of exotic birds was attacked by a cassowary on his property in Florida. The BBC reported that the flightless bird did so much damage, the man later died in the hospital from his injuries.

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In fact, News Break reports that this bird is so dangerous, during World War II, the Australian army trained its troops to stay far away from the bird.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, cassowaries are rare. A cousin of the emu, the huge tropical omnivore is native to the forests of Southeast Asia and Australia. The bristly-feathered creatures have dermal quills, not unlike those of a porcupine, and can be as large as 2 meters in height (6 ft., 6 in.), weighing as much as 60 kilograms (132 pounds).

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(Surya Dwi Permana Widodo/Shutterstock)
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(Jukka Jantunen/Shutterstock)

The sphenoid bone on the crown of its skull is a key indicator of the species. This feature is believed to be an evolutionary adaptation meant to deflect branches as the bird runs through the forest; the birds can zip through the trees at up to 30 miles per hour and can jump as far as 5 feet.

Cassowaries are typically shy birds that stay deep in the forests of Queensland, Australia, away from civilization. They are solitary animals, and because of their sharp hearing, they rarely appear in the vicinity of humans.

“There’s a lot of stories about dangerous kicks with their claws,” the San Diego Zoo told Newsbreak, adding that the creatures are a stark reminder that dinosaurs are a close relative of the bird family.

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(Susan Flashman/Shutterstock)
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After all, with a toe-claw that can grow as long as 5 inches in length, the cassowary is reminiscent of its famed raptor cousin. They are known to enjoy meat, including prey such as rats, frogs, mice, and even snakes.

Julia Clarke, a paleontologist and expert on the cassowary species, told CNN, “Surely, we think, we must know everything there is to know? But here, we started with simple curiosity What makes cassowaries so shiny? Understanding basic attributes—like how colors are generated—is something we often take for granted in living animals.”

The bird is certainly a dangerous yet fascinating species, worthy of further study and admiration (from a distance).