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Re: emu encounters



> There is an iindonesian bird (forgot it's name ~:-(           )
> It looks like an emu an it is said to be able to kill
> a man with just one kick

These are the cassowaries, and in Indonesia they only occur in Irian Jaya
( = the western part of New Guinea).

Short comments on the topic... emus and cassowaries are each other's closest
relatives; the earliest emu-or-something is said to be 25 Ma old, which
probably means it comes from Riversleigh*; the closest relatives of this
total group are the kiwis, while the moas are probably pretty basal ratites,
surpassed only by the rheas; the oldest rhea, and the oldest certain ratite,
is *Diogenornis* from the Paleocene of South America, the oldest ostrich is
*Palaeotis* from the middle Eocene of Messel -- if it is an ostrich;
elephant-birds (Madagascar), kiwis and moas have practically no known fossil
record; and while the separation of Antarctica and Australia began in the
late Early Cretaceous, it apparently wasn't completed before some 45 Ma ago,
when eastern Antarctica iced over due to new patterns of sea currents
(Australia had blocked cold currents from flowing almost all around
Antarctica). NZ did move off in the Late Cretaceous, though.**

* I've seen a molecular divergence date estimate CALIBRATED with an
imaginary date for the emu-cassowary divergence, 35 Ma ago, which was
explicitely based on the 25 Ma old fossil. Shame on those who think they
know the speed of evolution.
** Although this is no reason to CALIBRATE another molecular divergence date
estimate with 88 Ma ago as the date for the divergence of moas and most
other ratites! This preassumes that the first ratite was already
flightless -- and that the kiwis, according to the phylogeny in question,
then somehow reached NZ across the sea without being able to fly, some 40 Ma
later. Quite improbable, if you ask me.