Cassowary (casuarins galeatus, Vieill.), a bird of the ostrich family, the only species of the genus. The bill of the cassowary is long, compressed, and curved to the tip, the upper mandible overlapping the under. The wings consist of five strong rounded shafts without webs; the tail is not apparent; the tarsi are long and robust, and covered with large scales; the toes are three in number, all directed forward; the inner toe is armed with a very long powerful claw. The head and base of the bill are surmounted by an elevated compressed casque, or bony helmet; the head and neck are denuded of feathers, the skin being of a blue and violet color, with two fleshy wattles in front. It is a heavy massive bird, about 5 ft. high; the plumage is of a blackish color, the feathers being loose, and resembling delicate hairs; the feathers which take the place of the tail are pendent. The cassowary is a stupid, gluttonous bird, living on fruits, herbs, and occasionally on small animals; it is incapable of flight from the imperfect development of the wings, but it runs with great rapidity, and defends itself by means of its powerful feet. It lives in pairs in the forests of the Moluccas, of New Guinea, and other islands in the Indian archipelago; in some places it is domesticated.
The female lays three greenish spotted eggs, on the bare ground, on which she sits during the night for a month; the young are of a red color, mixed with grayish. The cassowary, though it approaches the structure of common birds in the shortness of the intestines, and in the want of the stomachal sac between the crop and the gizzard, belongs evidently to the ostrich type, characterized by massive size, absence of wings, strength of lower extremities, flattened breast bone, and hairy nature of the feathers.
Cassowary (Casuarius galeatus).