Tuesday 16th August 2022

These giant birds could eviscerate you. People were raising them 18,000 years ago.

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This gorgeous cassowary is considered one of the world’s most dangerous birds. (Image credit: Steve Wilson/Getty Images)

Whoever came up with the age-old riddle “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” failed to consider the world’s most dangerous (and Australia’s largest) bird — the cassowary (Casuarius).

New research suggests that the relationship between humans and cassowaries dates back to the late Pleistocene era — several thousand years before humans domesticated chickens and geese. “And this is not some small fowl,” lead study author Kristina Douglass, an archaeologist at Penn State, said in a statement. “It is a huge, ornery, flightless bird that can eviscerate you — most likely, the dwarf variety that weighs 20 kilos (44 pounds).” By examining the remains of ancient cassowary eggshells, Douglass and an international team of researchers determined that some 18,000 years ago, people in New Guinea were collecting, hatching — and possibly raising — cassowary chicks, which the researchers consider a sophisticated food-gathering technique. This represents the earliest known evidence of intentional bird rearing.

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Read More:These giant birds could eviscerate you. People were raising them 18,000 years ago.