Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ratitae

What do you think, when I mention the word "birds"?
We immediately think of their power of flight, we think of the free spirited birds, who just-like-that spread out their wings and take off.... I still remember what my friend told me when I refused to buy a scooty in view of fuel conservation and pollution; she said ' It’s like having a pair of wings and flying to any destination without much ado'. Yes, we all have this fascination for flying, to have a bird’s eye view of the place we live in, the sense of freedom it brings, the list is never ending (yes yes i bought a scooty 8 years ago : ) But do we know of birds that can’t fly!!! It is a fact that a set of birds can’t fly, their basic distinction from the rest of the animals is not there. If you think of the hen and duck, you’re wrong. The Hen and Duck are not one of them as they are capable of short distance flight.
Ratitae - terrestrial birds without keel (the bone which supports the flight muscles) to the sternum, absolutely flightless.
Any bird species that cannot fly because its smooth, or raft-like, sternum (breastbone) lacks a keel to which flight muscles can be anchored. The group includes some of the largest birds of all time. The ratites include the Afro-Asian Ostrich, common name for a large flightless bird of Africa and their South American counterparts the Rhea as well as a number of orders now or recently native to Australia, New Zealand, and New Guinea—the Emu and the Cassowary, the kiwi; the extinct Moa; the Madagascan elephant birds and several other extinct orders.
The flightless penguins are not ratites, since they have neither bony palate nor flat breastbone. In addition, their wings are powerful swim fins, and their chest muscles and sternum are as developed as those of any flying bird. The orders of ratites are classified in the Phylum: Chordata, Subphylum: Vertebrata, Class: Aves, Order: Ratitae
By the way for those bird watchers and naturalists... the months of November to March are a season in which you can see different kinds of migratory birds in the Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary near Chennai. You can see birds from as far as Siberia, Artic and North America. It is a visual treat. Enjoy!





2 comments:

JollyRoger said...

Thanks for the knowledge.

!! Oxymoron !! said...

Youre right, the moment *birds that cannot fly* are mentioned, I can only think of hens. Interesting article.