Dwarf cassowary

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Dwarf cassowary
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Superorder: Paleognathae
Order: Casuariiformes
Family: Casuariidae
Genus: Casuarius
Species: C. bennetti
Binomial name
Casuarius bennetti
Gould, 1857[2]
Casuarius bennetti Distribution.jpg
Distribution of the dwarf cassowary

The dwarf cassowary (Casuarius bennetti) also known as the Bennett's cassowary, little cassowary, mountain cassowary,[2] or mooruk, is the smallest of the three species of cassowaries. (See also southern cassowary and northern cassowary.)


Dwarf cassowary in Lae, New Guinea

The scientific name commemorates the Australian naturalist George Bennett.[3] He was the first scientist to examine these birds after a few were brought to Australia aboard a ship. Recognising them as a new species of cassowary, he sent specimens back to England, where other taxonomists confirmed his perception. On the west side of Geelvink Bay, western Irian, there is a distinctive form that may merit a split. C. papuanus is the tentative name.[2] There are no officially recognized sub-species, however, some authors believe there should be.[4][5]

The Karam or Kalam people[6] of the New Guinea Highlands classify bats and flying birds as one group, yaket, and the dwarf cassowary, a very large, wingless, flightless bird as another, kobtiy. Yaket are bony with wings and fly in the air, while kobtiy are bony without wings and are terrestrial and of the forest. They distinguish kobtiy from other bony, wingless animals because kobtiy are not quadrupedal like dogs and lizards and are not limbless like snakes.[7] (See Kalam languages.)

John Gould first identified the dwarf cassowary from a specimen from New Britain, in 1857.[2]

Breeding Population and Trends[8]
Location Population Trend
Central Papua New Guinea Unknown Declining
New Britain Unknown Declining
Yapen Unknown Declining
Total Unknown Moderately Declining


At Avilon Zoo, Philippines

It is a large bird but is slightly smaller than other living cassowaries. It is between 99 and 150 cm (3.25 and 4.92 ft) long and between 17.6 and 26 kg (39 and 57 lb) in mass.[2] It is a flightless bird with hard and stiff black plumage, a low triangular casque, pink cheek and red patches of skin on its blue neck.[2] Compared to other cassowaries, the dwarf cassowary is shorter, with a tarsi length of 24.5 cm (9.6 in), with a slightly smaller bill, at 11 to 12.2 cm (4.3 to 4.8 in).[2] The feet are large and powerful, equipped with dagger-like claws on the inner toe. Both sexes are similar. Females have longer casques, brighter bare skin color and are larger in size.

Range and habitat[edit]

The dwarf cassowary is distributed throughout mountain forests of New Guinea, New Britain, and Yapen Island,[9] at elevations up to 3,300 m (10,800 ft). In areas without other species of cassowaries, it will live in the lowlands also.[2] Its diet consists mainly of fallen fruits and small animals, and insects. A solitary bird, it pairs only in breeding season.[2]


Egg of Dwarf Cassowary

Due to ongoing habitat loss, habitat degradation, being hunted for food, and often being kept in captivity, the dwarf cassowary is evaluated as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species,[1] with an occurrence range of 258,000 km2 (100,000 sq mi).[8]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2013). "Casuarius bennetti". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Davies, S. J. J. F. (2003)
  3. ^ Gotch, A. F. (1995)
  4. ^ Avibase 2009
  5. ^ Brands, S. (2008)
  6. ^ "Dialects of Papua New Guinea: Kalam". Retrieved 2014-01-08. 
  7. ^ Bulmer, Ralph (1967). "Why is the Cassowary Not a Bird? A Problem of Zoological Taxonomy Among the Karam of the New Guinea Highlands". Man 2 (1): 5–25. doi:10.2307/2798651. 
  8. ^ a b BirdLife International (2008)
  9. ^ Clements, J (2007)


  • Bennett, George (1860), Gatherings of a naturalist in Australasia, John Van Voorst, London
  • BirdLife International (2008). "Dwarf Cassowary - BirdLife Species Factsheet". Data Zone. Retrieved 6 Feb 2009. 
  • Brands, Sheila (Aug 14, 2008). "Systema Naturae 2000 / Classification, Casuarius bennetti". Project: The Taxonomicon. Retrieved Feb 4, 2009. 
  • Clements, James (2007). The Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World (6 ed.). Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-4501-9. 
  • Davies, S.J.J.F. (2003). "Cassowaries". In Hutchins, Michael. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. 8 Birds I Tinamous and Ratites to Hoatzins (2 ed.). Farmington Hills, Michigan: Gale Group. pp. 75–80. ISBN 0-7876-5784-0. 
  • Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 
  • Gotch, A.F. (1995) [1979]. "Cassowaries". Latin Names Explained. A Guide to the Scientific Classifications of Reptiles, Birds & Mammals. London: Facts on File. pp. 178–179. ISBN 0-8160-3377-3. 

External links[edit]