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RE: emu encounters

Re: Emu attacks

I have seen a group of 3 emu's chase a woman into her car just to get at the
Sausage in bread that she was eating.  This was at The Mount Remarkable
National Park in South Australia.  Even after she was in the car with the
windows wound up, the bird kept pecking at the car. (The rest of the flock
just attacked the meat that was left on the barbie.)

Tourists had got into the habit of feeding them and after this attack, the
emu's had to be relocated to another area of the park.

Hayley Longworth

-----Original Message-----
From: zone65@bigpond.com [mailto:zone65@bigpond.com]
Sent: Wednesday, 14 January 2004 20:34
To: dinosaur@usc.edu
Subject: emu encounters

Emus roam free on the grounds at our local zoo (in Canberra), much as 
peacocks do at zoos in other countries. I was checking out an emu's 
feet from very close-up last weekend, getting reference for how to 
paint a T. rex foot.

Although the zoo inhabitants are very tame, I was menaced by an emu in 
the wild several years ago. I was peeling a banana when an extremely 
tall bird approached me, obviously wanting the fruit. I tried to hide 
it behind my back, but it then seemed ready to attack. So I quickly 
gave it the banana which it gulped down in one go. I'm 6 foot 2" and 
this bird towered over me. Luckily it walked back to its 'flock' after 
it was sated. I've never heard of anyone being killed or even injured 
by an emu, but I hadn't realised how obstreperous they could be until 
this incident.

I've been mobbed by kangaroos as well, but I guess that's too off-topic!

Peter Markmann

On Wednesday, January 14, 2004, at 03:57  PM, Nancy Cavanaugh wrote:

> I am interested in anything I can learn about the bird. Here in the US 
> there
> doesn't seem to be a lot of information about them, even though there 
> has been
> a growing population of emu ranches and interest in the various 
> products
> created from the emus.
> Hmmm... that's interesting. Nothing I've read to date (and I've only 
> been
> researching this for a couple of months, and 98% of that research has 
> been done
> online as books about emus, at least in the public sector, in the US 
> are rare
> to non-existent) said anything about the emu being from a common 
> ancestor with
> the cassowaries. Who was the common ancestor? How did they evolve 
> differently?
> I had read in several places that it is believed that the emu has 
> evolved very
> little from its earliest form. One would assume, based on that 
> information and
> what you've said, that the cassowaries probably evolved very little 
> from their
> earliest form. Has that been the case?
> One specialist I spoke to suggested that I say that it is believed 
> that the
> emus date back 80 million years ago but that there is more recent 
> research that
> suggests they may only be 45 million years old. Your suggestion is 
> basically
> the same so I think I will take that cue unless there is a further 
> dispute
> about it.
> Sorry for the typo on Mr. Cracraft's name. The erroneous spelling is 
> from a few
> websites where I found the information about when the dating of the emu
> happened. When did Mr. Cracraft announce his findings for the dating 
> of the
> emu? Was it '71 or '73?
> You forgot about the extinct Tasmanian Emu which is supposed to be a 
> sub-
> species of the "mainland" emu. =) Did they ever live on the mainlanda? 
> How did
> they get to Tasmania?
> Nancy Cavanaugh <who is sure she has a lot more questions but is 
> falling asleep
> at the computer and needs to go to bed to hopefully not be sick 
> tomorrow>
> PS, I am sorry if some of my message is confusing. I am getting sick 
> (hopefully
> not the flu!) so my thought processes are not working right.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ronald Orenstein <ornstn@rogers.com>
>> Of course there is no certain way to determine exactly when the 
>> modern emu,
>> Dromaius novaehollandiae, first "appeared on earth" -- and, since it
>> obviously evolved from an ancestor which was not quite identical to 
>> it, it
>> is not even correct to say that it appeared (as opposed to achieving a
>> certain level of differentiation from its ancestors).  So the first
>> question to ask is, are you interested in when the modern species 
>> arose,
>> when the genus arose, the family, or the order?
>> There are three ways of getting some sort of answer to these 
>> questions: the
>> obvious one, of course, is to come up with a fossil of known age.  
>> Another
>> is to use genetic data to estimate how long ago a species (or higher
>> category) diverged from the common ancestor it shared with its nearest
>> living relative (in this case, with the cassowaries if you are 
>> referring to
>> the emu family, as opposed to the living species -- bear in mind that 
>> there
>> are two recently extinct emu species, from King Island and Kangaroo
>> Island.)  A third, perhaps more questionable, technique is to look at 
>> the
>> history of continental drift.  The argument would go, for example, 
>> that the
>> emu lineage -- or at least the emu-cassowary lineage as separate from 
>> the
>> lineage is that lead to other large flightless birds such as 
>> ostriches --
>> must be at least as old as the point at which Australia broke away 
>> from the
>> land mass of Gondwanaland.  That is where the 45 million-year-old 
>> figure
>> comes from, because that is apparently the time at which Australia and
>> Antarctica separated.  However, this does not tell us when emus and
>> cassowaries differentiated from each other, as they both occur in
>> Australia.  Presumably this happened later, but not necessarily as the
>> separation could have occurred before the birds became isolated on the
>> Australian landmass.  Obviously there are none left in Antarctica!
>> That said, and noting that Joel's name is "Cracraft", the Handbook of 
>> the
>> Birds of the World, Volume one, published in the 1992, notes that the
>> oldest fossils that can be ascribed to the living genus of emus are 
>> only
>> some 5000 to 10,000 years old, and belong to the King Island Emu 
>> which has
>> since become extinct.  Obviously, emus as a lineage are older than
>> that.  however, the most recent book I have on the subject, a detailed
>> monograph called "Ratites and Tinamous" by SJJF Davies (Oxford, 2002),
>> casts doubt on any of the attempts to determine precisely how old 
>> these
>> groups of birds are, and does not suggest a date.
>> I would be inclined, given this, not to attempt to come up with an 
>> age for
>> the emu family.  All that I think you can really say is that emus and 
>> their
>> closest relatives, the cassowaries, have been separated from their 
>> nearest
>> relatives ever since Australia drifted away from Antarctica and so,
>> together, must have been around in one form or another for at least 
>> 40 to
>> 45 million years.
>> --
>> Ronald I. Orenstein                           Phone: (905) 820-7886
>> International Wildlife Coalition              Fax/Modem: (905) 
>> 569-0116
>> 1825 Shady Creek Court
>> Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2          mailto:ornstn@rogers.com