CASUARIUS, the cassowary, a genus of great birds belonging to the section Struthionidae. Three species are known,—C. galeatus, a native of Ceram, C. Australia, inhabiting the Cape York district of Australia, and C. Bennettii, whose domicile is New Britain. The Malay name is Suwari, from which the European one is taken.
Casuarina galeatus inhabits the island of Ceram only, and, like the cockatoos, crown pigeons, and birds of paradise, was made known to the inhabit ants of the west through the Malay and Javanese, who have immemorially carried on a trade with the country of the Papuans. It is a stout, strong bird, standing five or six feet high, and covered with long hair-like feathers. Its head has a large horny casque or helmet.
Casuarius Bennettii, Gould, is the cassowary of the island of New Britain, near to New Guinea, where it is called Mooruk. The height of the bird is three feet to the top of the back, and five feet when standing erect. Its colour is rufous, mixed with black on the back and hinder portions of the body, and raven black about the neck and breast. The loose wavy skin of the neck is beautifully coloured with iridescent tints of bluish purple, pink, and an occasional shady green, quite different from the red and purple caruncles of the Casuarius galeatus. The feet and legs, which are very large and strong, are of a pale ash colour. This bird also differs from the C. galeatus in having a horny plate instead of a helmet-like protuberance on the top of the head; which callous plate has the character of and resembles mother-of-pearl darkened with black-lead. The form of the bill differs consider ably from that of the emu, Dromaius being narrower, larger, and more curved, and in having a black or leathery case at the base. Behind the plate of the head is a small tuft of black hair-like feathers, which are con tinued in greater or lesser abundance over most parts of the neck. The egg is about the same size as that of the emu, and is of a dirty pale yellowish-green colour. The bird appeared to Dr.
Bennett to approximate more nearly to the emu than to the cassowary, and to form the link between these species. In its bearing and style of walking it resembles the former, throwing the head forward, and only becoming perfectly erect when running ; it also very much resembles the apteryx in its body, in the style of the motion, and in its attitudes. Its bill a great deal the character of that of a rail ; it utters a peculiar chirping whistling sound, but also a loud one resembling that of the word Mooruk, whence, no doubt, is derived its native name. The male is selfish and easily irritated. It kicks always in front, its legs sometimes reaching as high as a man's waist.
Casuarina galeatus, Gould, the helmeted cas sowary of Ceram, is so called from the horny helmet which surmounts the head. Its rudimentary wings consist of five long bristles like blunt porcupine quills. It runs swiftly with a bounding motion. It feeds on fruits, birds' eggs, insects, crustacea, and tender herbage. It is a stout and strong bird, standing five or six feet high, and covered with long, coarse black hair-like feathers.
The head has a large horny curve or helmet, with bright blue and red colours on the bare skin of the neck. These birds wander about in the vast mountain forests that cover the island of Ceram. The female lays three to five largo and beautifully shagreened green eggs, on a bed of leaves. The male and female it alternately on the eggs for about a month.
Dromaius Nom Hollanditx rises to a height of 'seven feet. It lives on fruits, eggs, and small anirnals.—Craufurtrs Dictionary, p. 84; London Atheneum, Dec. 12, 1857, p. 1551 ; lVallace, ii. p. 8G; Dr. Bennett in a letter dated Sydney, 10th Sept. 1857; G. Bennett, p. 260.