Does the ostrich really stick its head in the sand? No, it just tries to hide its head by lowering it to the ground. Is an ostrich’s eye really bigger than its brain?
Ostrich fossils have been found which date back for more than 120 million years and the oldest of these was found in Central Europe. Strangely enough fossils have been found in Europe, Africa and Asia, in spite of the fact that wild ostriches are now only found in Africa.
The bird from the oldest of these fossils was identified as a member of the genus ‘Struthio’ and there are still ostriches of this variety alive today.
Photo Credit: Eden Ostrich World
The brain of the ostrich is smaller than its eye. It is actually very small in proportion to the size of the bird. The eye measures about 5 centimetres and is the largest of any land animal.
Photo credit: lh4.ggpht.com
Ostriches live in herds of around a dozen birds and can grow up to nine feet tall and live for as long as forty years. An ostrich’s long legs can cover up to sixteen feet in one stride. It is the fastest land animal on two legs. These legs are used as weapons and one kick can kill a large predator like a lion, or a human being.
Photo credit: Ostrich.com
Ostrich egg are the largest in the world (about twenty times the size of a hen’s egg) and would take about forty minutes to hard boil. The male digs a hole and up to five females deposit their eggs in it. A typical clutch will have as many as twenty-five eggs in it. The male incubates the eggs at night and the dominant female takes over in the day time and it takes around forty-five days for them to hatch.
This bird cannot fly despite its six foot wingspan. The wings have soft feathers underneath which are quite different from flat flight feathers. The wings are used in mating ‘dances’, for providing insulation and to shade their young.
Photo credit: Talkorigins.com
In Roman times ostriches were prized for their meat which is rich, red and low in fat. They were also captured and used for sport in the Roman Arena along side lions and other animals. During the 1800’s ostrich feathers were prized and used to decorate hats and fans and their skins were valued as soft leather. This demand, over hundreds of years, almost led to their extinction in the wild. However, during the first world war the market for ostrich leather disappeared .
During the 1970’s a new market for ostrich meat, leather and feathers started to grow and commercial farms began rearing these birds. Farms grew up in more than 50 different countries because of the ostrich’s ability to tolerate a huge range of temperatures and weather conditions. In UK, Australia and US ostriches are designated as dangerous animals and licenses are need to keep them. A fully grown male can be extremely aggressive and there have been instances of people being seriously injured, or even killed by these beautiful and powerful birds.