“The Living Link”
Okay, this guy gives new meaning to the word “mohawk.” And no, this is not a velociraptor; it’s an emu. The emu is a very close relative of the ostrich and comes from Australia rather than Africa.
We all know the proverbial stereotype about ostriches, right? Ostriches like to hide their heads in the sand. People think of them as big, hulking birds that have lost their ability to fly— lost the ability to do what they were created to do. Like the human appendix, their wings appear at first glance to be vestiges of another evolutionary era. Utterly without grace, ostriches have become a symbol of cowardice and even silliness.
But ostriches just so happen to be the fastest thing on two legs. They can actually run at speeds of 45 mph for longer than 30 minutes. A single kick from this “bird” can kill a lion or a leopard. And in terms of sheer size, they can get over 9 feet tall and weigh over 345 pounds. In fact, they are strong enough for a human being to ride them. I actually have a friend who’s ridden one.
According to experts, though the ostrich and emu developed on separate continents, they are so similar because they were built for speed and extreme specialization tends to make animals look the same. In fact, according to biologists, ostriches and emus are not only the fastest thing on two legs, but are “better” runners in terms of combined speed, power and endurance than most four-legged runners. They are more than twice as fast as a roadrunner. The emu actually devotes almost one third of its body mass to leg extensor muscles. And the large wings, which many think are pointless, are actually what enable the ostrich to take sharp turns as well as stop at extreme speeds.
All of these talents aside, I learned of another emu trait when I tried to take this shot. As I moved my head and camera one direction, the emu moved its head in the exact same direction. I watched in shock when the emu continued to imitate my exact movement. As we played this imitation game, I couldn’t help but come to the startling realization that I was interacting not only with a friendly creature, but an intelligent one.
So what can you learn from an emu? Well it’s pretty simple. Some people might call you a flightless bird, but if you’re smart you’ll realize that you weren’t meant to fly at all. You were built for speed.