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Re: Way cool kagu

From: Ben Creisler

The 1891 Beddard paper can be read and downloaded from:



A number of videos of Kagus on the web:



In captivity


Singing family group

On Fri, Jul 19, 2013 at 10:22 AM, Ronald Orenstein
<ron.orenstein@rogers.com> wrote:
> According to the account in Handbook of the Birds of the World v. 3 "Birds 
> use the wings to assist their movement, when they are forced to flee from 
> danger, over steep descents, or when they are climbing in difficult terrain. 
> At these times, the birds often flap their wings, but they can also glide 
> during airborne descents."  As Greg notes the wings are also used in display.
> The account also notes that Kagus frequently roost above ground: "Kagus perch 
> above the ground mainly on live and dead branches or tree trunks, but they 
> sometimes use vines, raised roots or isolated rocks. Purchase average about 
> 30 cm in diameter; they are usually in climbable positions about 1.5 m above 
> the ground, but they may be up to about 4 m. high."
> There is an old paper on Kagu anatomy but I cannot access the full text: 
> Beddard, F. (1891).  Contributions to the Anatomy of the Kagu (Rhinochetus 
> jubatus). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London Volume 59, Issue 1, 
> pages 9–21.
> I have been to New Caledonia (in 1970; a very neat place indeed) but the only 
> Kagus I saw were, alas, in captivity.
> Ronald Orenstein
> 1825 Shady Creek Court
> Mississauga, ON L5L 3W2
> Canada
> ronorenstein.blogspot.com
> ________________________________
> From: "GSP1954@aol.com" <GSP1954@aol.com>
> To: dinosaur@usc.edu
> Sent: Friday, July 19, 2013 12:52:53 PM
> Subject: Way cool kagu
> Until it was mentioned recently on the list I did not even know about the
> kagu (so did not discuss in DA). Since it is the only living nearly
> flightless bird with big wings it is very important, and I wanted to see the
> skeleton. Was afraid would have to go all the way down to the Smithsonian and
> arrange to get into birds and so on and so forth. But right there on Google 
> is an
> old figure of the skeleton via Parker 1868 bless em, the paper is on the web
> (it starts with rather a bit of a tiff with Professor Huxley over the
> proper identity of the great maxilla before it gets down to describing the 
> kagu -
> ah those were the days:-). Also on Google is an excellent photo of
> isplay, showing the entire left ventral surface
> flat on to the camera. So did a skeletal restoration with the wing profile
> (was able to get the correct wing size on the skeleton by using the lengthes 
> of
> the arm, head and metatarsus which all produced similar results).
> The kagu is a set of really long legs anchored on a very big pelvis
> attached to a remarkably short,  deep body, and a very large head with big 
> eyes.
> The area of the wing is typical for a flying bird at its mass and similar
> to Archaeopteryx and Microraptor. Yet there are remarkably few primary (they
> are asymmetrical) and inner feathers, just 16 along the whole span of the
> wing. The sternum lacks a keel and is very narrow. Sternal ribs look normal,
> uncinates rather small. Really notable is that the furcula is very thin, and
> the coracoid is quite narrow. Scapula blade rather reduced. The humerus
> shaft is slender, especially at mid shaft, being much weaker than the femur. 
> The
> pectoral crest is hardly there. The very thin furcula and teeny pectoral
> crest suggest extreme reduction of flight muscles. The leg muscles onthe
> oversized pelvis and long long limbs must be a far larger percent of total 
> mass.
> Toe claws are flat of course, short, tips seem to be worn a bit. Kagus are
> adapted for running and not flying. They show what a full winged but nearly
> flightless ground dwelling theropod looks like.
> Archaeopteryx does not have an ossified sternum. But the furcula is much
> more robust, the pectoral crest is many, many times larger, and the coracoid
> is broader. The humerus is more robust than the femur. The pelvis is dinky
> and the legs are not all that long, toes claws are large, shapr and more
> curved. The arm muscles should have been stronger than those of the legs,
> indicating that the arms were the main locomotary organs via some level of 
> powered
> flight (probably better than kagu) and quad climbing. This is what a
> scansorial winged theropod looks like.
> Microraptor also has very large pectoral crest, stout furcula and coracoid,
> agu, and a flattened
> central finger to support the outer primaries not present in Archaeopteryx.
> The legs are very long, but that is because they too are supporting big
> wings. Pelvis is rather small. Toe claws big, strongly arced and very sharp. 
> Must
> have been a better powered flier and climber than Archaeopteryx. This is
> what a highly arboreal winger theropod looks like.
> What we really need is a lot more data on the kagu. So one of you get a
> grant to go to New Caledonia (very nice place, McCale and his PT 73 crew went
> on leave there, is big tourist beach destination for the French). Find out
> exactly what their flight abilities are and are not. Really badly needed is
> the weight of the combined flight muscles as a percent of body mass (also of
> leg muscles). So kill a kagu or two - never mind that they are endangered and
> it is very illegal - and get that data. How's that for a project?
> Of course we will probably never know the exact size and nature of kagu
> flight muscles. Sigh.
> GSPaul</HTML>