The Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) is a large Australian bird. It cannot fly. It is a ratite, a bird with a flat chest-bone. Ratites include the ostrich, kiwi, and cassowary.
The Emu has two long featherless legs with scales. It has three forward-facing toes that have cushioned pads and sharp claws (toe-nails).
The Emu is the only bird with calf muscles. Calf muscles are the muscles on the back of the lower leg (below the back of the knee). Unlike many other birds, the Emu does not perch on wire or branches, and it therefore does not grasp branches. The Emu also has fewer bones and muscles in its legs than birds that can fly.
Due to its strong calf muscles, it can run fast. The Emu is tall (as tall as a person) and fast (faster than a person). After the Ostrich from the African continent, the Australian Emu is the second largest and second fastest bird in the world.
It can run up to 50 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour). It can run for long distances at this speed. It takes long strides. Each stride, when it is running fast, can measure up to 300 centimetres (118 inches). The Emu can also jump straight up to a height of nearly 200 centimetres (79 inches) – that’s a jump as high as an adult person.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM