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What is a Ratite?
A Ratite is any bird belonging to the Ratitae family of birds. These are birds which cannot fly due to the fact that the sternum, or breastbone, has no median ridge or keel for the attachment of the great pectoral or wing muscles. The breastbone is flat, or raft like.
The ostrich is originally from Africa and will get to be around 8 feet tall (depending on subspecies) and can weigh up to 350 pounds. It is the only bird with only two toes. An ostrich can run 45 MPH. The oldest ostrich on record is 81 years.
The Cassowary is from New Guinea and northern Australia. It averages 5 feet tall, but is much heaver than an emu, weighing in at 150 pounds.
Rheas come from South America. There are two kinds of rhea, the common rhea which is between 4 1/2 to 5 feet tall and weighs between 40 to 80 pounds. The Darwin's rhea, which is smaller, weighs between 25 to 45 pounds.
The shy Kiwi is a native of New Zealand. It is about the size of a chicken, but runs very fast. The Kiwi is one of the few birds that has a sense of smell. It uses it's long beak to find grubs and worms to eat. The kiwi lays the biggest egg in relation to it's body of any bird in the world, nearly 1/4 it's own weight.
Compare ratites to other flightless birds, such as the penguin. The penguin cannot fly but it is not a ratite, it has a keel shaped breastbone. It uses it's strong pectoral muscles to swim.
Compare ratites to other birds that can run fast. A roadrunner (beep, beep) can run very fast. Can it fly? Yes, it can!
On to What is an Emu?