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GALLERIES > BIRDS > DROMAIIDAE > KING ISLAND EMU [Dromaius ater]


King Island Emu Picture
 
 

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SPECIES INFO

The King Island Emu or Black Emu (Dromaius ater) is an extinct ratite species which occurred on King Island between mainland Australia and Tasmania. It is known from subfossil bones and one museum specimen.

Description

It had darker plumage and was much smaller than other emus, with only half the weight of the mainland birds. It was about 140 cm (55 in) tall and weighed 23 kg (51 lb). The jeveniles were grey, while the chicks were striped like other emus. They ate berries, grass and seaweed, and they reportedly liked the shady area of lagoons and the shoreline. Its taxonomy has been subject to much debate because of confusion with the Kangaroo Island Emu, and only was resolved in 1984 by Shane A. Parker.


Extinction

The King Island Emu was discovered by the Baudin expedition in 1802. Two or three individuals were brought back to France in 1804 and were kept in captivity in the Jardin des Plantes, the last one dying in 1822. One of these last birds remains today as the sole surviving skin in the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle. At the time of the death of the last captive bird, the species was long gone from King Island, having been killed off by hunting and, apparently, fires started by visiting sailors.





                                     



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