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[no subject]

In an earlier posting, Darren Naish commented on the uses of the crest or 
casque of the cassowary.

I would be grateful for any references to the statement that 'cassowaries use 
their crests as tools when foraging in soil and leaf litter' or 'as foliage 
deflectors'.  I have never seen any suggestion of the former behaviour.  The 
major foods of cassowaries are fruits taken off the surface of the ground.

 The second possibility seems unlikely given the relative orientation of the 
eyes if the casque is pointed forward in a position to part the foliage.  There 
is too high a chance that the leaves would suddenly give way to something 
harder, like a tree trunk, and a downward looking cassowary would come to an 
abrupt halt. The casque is not strong and seems poorly constructed for such 
use.  I suspect that many of the breaks in the casques of captive birds come 
from collisions with cage bars as they attempt to maul zoo keepers and the 
general public.

One suggestion that I have heard is that the casques serve as social signals.  
Cassowaries are grumpy solitary beasts, which only come together (albeit 
grudgingly) only in the mating season.  At other times meetings between two 
individuals result in one being scooted out of the area.  Given the armament on 
the feet of these birds, a obvious signal of fitness or strength would avoid 
some potentially nasty wounds.