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Ostriches
Ostrich Leg Bones Below Knee (Extant)
(Overall length of bones shown is 26.75")
Metatarsal
Phalanges
Arched
Laid Flat
Ostrich Skull and Jaw (Extant)
 
     Ostrich eyes are about two inches in diameter and are larger than any other land animal.  This allows ostriches to see potential predators at great distances and take evasive action by hiding or running.  The idea that ostriches bury their heads in the sand to hide is a myth.   They do lower their long necks laying them along the ground to blend in with the landscape.
 
Ostrich Breeding Pair
"Handsome male ostrich with beautiful feathers displaying to it's mate."
 
    “It may seem amazing that an ostrich's thin legs can keep their large bodies upright. Their legs are perfectly placed so that the body's center of gravity balances on top of its legs.” [2]
© Duncan Noakes | Dreamstime.com
Ostrich Feather
 
     “There are many different types of ostrich feathers depending on the age of the bird, the sex of the bird and where they are positioned on the bird.” [3]   All ostrich feathers lack microscopic hooks that hold the feather vanes together on birds that can fly.
     Ostriches are amazing flightless birds.   They are the largest birds today reaching 7 to 9 feet tall and weighing 140 to 340 lbs.  Ostriches are faster than any other bird on land and can run up to 43 mph for short distances and 31 mph continuously for 30 minutes. [1]  An adult ostrich's wingspan is about 6 to 7 feet and they use their wings as rudders to help make turns.   Unlike all other birds that have three or four toes with claws for grasping, scratching and perching, ostriches have only two toes on each foot that make them ideal for running and unsuitable for grasping and perching. 
 
     Ostriches vary from birds that fly in many significant ways.   Birds that fly are optimized for flight being extremely light weight, having strong wing muscles attached to a strong kneeled sternum, and having flight feathers that are ideally shaped, positioned, and held together by microscopic hooks .  Ostriches do very well on land but have none of the prerequisites for flight being far too heavy, having a flat rafted sternum that is too weak to support flight muscles and having no wing flight feathers with offset shafts and microscopic hooks too stiffen and maintain their shape.
     Ostrich legs have no feathers, are very strong, and bend only forward.    A well placed kick by an ostrich utilizing its big toe can kill a lion; however, they prefer to hide or run away from predators and reserve kicking to when it is the only survival option. 

 

     Their diet  consists of grass, leaves, roots, flowers, seeds, invertebrates, and small reptiles and rodents.  It is reported that ostriches do not need to drink water as they get all they need from the food they eat.   Another source indicates that they can go two days without drinking.   As they have a beak with no teeth, they swallow pebbles to aid in grinding up the food in their gizzard.   Ostriches have three stomachs and a very large strong intestine (46 feet when laid out straight) that efficiently removes water from their food.  

 

     Ostrich hens lay 6"x 5" eggs that weigh 3 pounds, the largest of all bird eggs.

 

     Estimates of ostrich average life expendency range from 35 to 40 years.  Some can live as much as 70 years. 

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[1] Ostrich, The Animal Files, viewed May 18, 2015, http://www.theanimalfiles.com/birds/ostrich/ostrich.html
[2]Bradford, Alina, Ostrich Facts: The World's Largest Bird, Live Science, September 17, 2014, www.livescience.com/27433-ostriches.html
[3]Ostrich Feather Structure and Quality, World Ostrich Association, viewed May 18, 2015, http://world-ostrich.org/standards/ostrich-feather-structure-and-quality/ 
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