Are Cassowaries Dinosaurs Hiding in Plain Sight?

Written by Rebecca Bales
Updated: October 25, 2022
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Dinosaurs still alive today?

If you’ve seen a cassowary foot you might think so! Cassowaries are not dinosaurs, but they are one of the closest living relatives.

Let’s dig into how cassowaries and dinosaurs are alike!

Are Cassowaries Dinosaurs?

Take a look at the picture in the tweet embedded below and blurt out the first word that comes to mind.

A dinosaur foot or something else?

If you thought this was some kind of dinosaur foot, you’re not alone! The picture is actually of a cassowary foot and was taken in 2019. It shows the distinctive 5 inch claw that grows on cassowary feet and their scaly legs which look similar to most representations of dinosaurs.

The closest relative of dinosaurs are birds. Both dinosaurs and birds have extremely lightweight bones. In the case of dinosaurs this helped them becomes extremely large, in the case of birds it helped them fly.

Cassowary Speed - Flightless Birds

Flightless birds ranging from the


bird to the rhea.

©Nicolas Primola/

While all birds are technically all decedents from dinosaurs, the cassowary is thought to be as similar to ancients as it gets. They are large bodies with large, fierce claws. Although flightless, these birds have huge helmet-like structures on their heads which many ancient species of dinosaurs are thought to have had.

Cassowaries are one of only about 60 flightless bird species. Even more rare is their size. While massive flightless birds like the elephant bird (which weighed up to 1,600 pounds) and moa (which weighed up to 550 pounds) recently roamed the earth, today very few remain.

In addition to the cassowary, flightless birds like ostriches, emus, and rheas can reach over 100 pounds.

Recent Dinosaur Discovery Looks Like a Cassowary

Cassowary Dinosaur - Extinct Dinosaur

An artisit’s rendering of the

Corythoraptor jacobsi

. (Image: Zhao Chuang)

©Zhao Chuang / CC BY 4.0 – License

Look at the image above and tell us what looks unique about this picture of cassowaries.

If you answered, “that’s not a picture of cassowaries,” you’re absolutely correct!

The above picture is taken from recently published scientific research on a new dinosaur species named Corythoraptor jacobsi. This artwork demonstrates how closely the species resembles modern cassowaries.

Cassowary Size - Cassowary on black background

A picture of a cassowary for comparison

©Sardo Michael/

Even more striking is the side by side comparison of the Corythoraptor‘s skeleton vs. a modern day cassowary skeleton.

On the image below images A and B show analysis of the newly discovered dinosaur’s skull. Picture C shows an artist’s rendering of what the dinosaur’s head would have looked like.

Compare this to image F, which shows a modern cassowary skull. It’s remarkably similar! The bottom 3 images compare the crest on the top of a cassowary’s skull to the crest on the extinct dinosaur. It shows that the materials are extremely similar!

A comparison of cassowary skeletons and a recently discovered dinosaur. [Source:

Scientific Reports


©Junchang Lü, Guoqing Li, Martin Kundrát, Yuong-Nam Lee, Zhenyuan Sun, Yoshitsugu Kobayashi, Caizhi Shen, Fangfang Teng & Hanfeng Liu, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License

Ancient relatives of cassowaries are believed to have first evolved shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs, about 60 million years ago. So while cassowaries are not directly related to this dinosaur, the discovery does shed light on how similar they are to some long lost dinosaur species!

Next Up…

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Andreas Ruhz/

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About the Author

Rebecca is an experienced Professional Freelancer with nearly a decade of expertise in writing SEO Content, Digital Illustrations, and Graphic Design. When not engrossed in her creative endeavors, Rebecca dedicates her time to cycling and filming her nature adventures. When not focused on her passion for creating and crafting optimized materials, she harbors a deep fascination and love for cats, jumping spiders, and pet rats.

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