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No. 119: Sep-Oct 1998

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Cassowary, 1; Automobile, 0

Many birds are done in by fast-moving cars. The usual avian mode of retaliation involves defecation, especially on freshly washed and polished automobiles. On occasion, though, birds will use brute force. For example, keas (New Zealand parrots) consider it their duty to pry out the rubber gaskets around automobile windshields with their powerful bills.

A cassowary can be even more forceful. Recently, a motorist near Cairns, Australia, was forced to stop by a sixfoot cassowary standing in the middle of the road. He edged the car forward slowly, but the huge bird stood its ground. Then, he blew his horn. Bad move! The cassowary objected by kicking the auto, pushing the radiator into the fan, which cut a hole in it.

(Anonymous; "Feedback," New Scientist, p. 104, June 13, 1998.)

Comment. The flightless cassowaries are armed with sharp toenails, with which they disembowel New Guinea natives who displease them.

Cassowary Besides disposing of obstreperous automobiles, cassowaries are said to catch fish by wading into streams, spreading out their wings, waiting, and then closing them on sheltering fish. (From: Biological Anomalies: Birds).

From Science Frontiers #119, SEP-OCT 1998. 1998-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987