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''Struthio'' is a
genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
of
bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With ...

bird
s in the
order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, or waste, and the habit of achieving a ...
Struthioniformes Struthionidae (, Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roma ...

Struthioniformes
, whose members are the ostriches. It is part of the infra-class
Palaeognathae Palaeognathae (; ) is a clade of birds, called paleognaths, within the subclass Neornithes of the class (biology), class Aves. It is one of the two extant taxon, extant infraclasses of birds, the other being Neognathae, both of which form Neorni ...
, a diverse group of flightless birds also known as
ratite A ratite () is any of a diverse group of mostly flightless s are a well-known example of flightless birds. Flightless birds are birds that through evolution lost the ability to flight, fly. There are over 60 extant species, including the well ...

ratite
s that includes the
emu The emu (''Dromaius novaehollandiae'') is the second-largest living bird by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. It is endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological c ...

emu
s, rheas, and
kiwi KIWI (102.9 FM, "Radio Lobo") is a commercial radio station , Sweden , Norway Radio broadcasting is transmission of audio signal, audio (sound), sometimes with related metadata, by radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. In terrestria ...
s. There are two living species of ostrich: the
common ostrich The common ostrich (''Struthio camelus''), or simply ostrich, is a species of flightless bird native to certain large areas of Africa and is the largest living bird species. It is one of two extant species of ostriches, the only living members o ...

common ostrich
and the
Somali ostrich The Somali ostrich (''Struthio molybdophanes''), also known as the blue-necked ostrich, is a large flightless bird native to the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀንድ, yäafrika qänd, so, Ge ...

Somali ostrich
. They are large flightless birds of Africa who lay the largest eggs of any living land animal. With the ability to run at 70 km/h (43.5 mph), they are the fastest birds on land. They are farmed worldwide, particularly for their feathers as they are used as decoration and feather dusters. Their skin is also used for leather products. Ostriches are notable for being the heaviest living birds.


Taxonomic history

The genus ''Struthio'' was first described by
Carl Linnaeus Carl Linnaeus (; 23 May 1707 – 10 January 1778), also known after his Nobility#Ennoblement, ennoblement as Carl von Linné#Blunt, Blunt (2004), p. 171. (), was a Swedish botanist, zoologist, taxonomist, and physician who formalised binomi ...

Carl Linnaeus
in 1758. The genus was used by Linnaeus and other early taxonomists to include the
emu The emu (''Dromaius novaehollandiae'') is the second-largest living bird by height, after its ratite relative, the ostrich. It is endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological c ...

emu
, rhea, and
cassowary ''Casuarius'' is a genus of birds in the order Casuariiformes The Casuariiformes is an order of large flightless birds that has four surviving members: the three species of cassowary, and the only remaining species of emu. They are divided i ...

cassowary
, until they each were placed in their own genera. The Somali ostrich (''Struthio molybdophanes'') has recently become recognized as a separate species by most authorities, while others are still reviewing the evidence.Birdlife International (2012)


Evolution

The earliest fossils of ostrich-like birds are
Paleocene The Paleocene, ( ) or Palaeocene, is a geological epoch In chronology 222px, Joseph Scaliger's ''De emendatione temporum'' (1583) began the modern science of chronology Chronology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language bel ...
taxa from Europe. ''
Palaeotis ''Palaeotis'' is a genus of paleognath birds from the middle Eocene epoch of central Europe. One species is known, ''Palaeotis weigelti''. The holotype specimen is a fossil tarsometatarsus and Phalanx bones, phalanx. Lambrect (1928) described it ...
'' and ''
Remiornis ''Remiornis heberti'' is an extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the L ...
'' from the Middle
Eocene The Eocene ( ) Epoch is a geological epoch (geology), epoch that lasted from about 56 to 33.9 million years ago (mya). It is the second epoch of the Paleogene Period (geology), Period in the modern Cenozoic Era (geology), Era. The name ''Eocene'' ...
and unspecified ratite remains are known from the Eocene and Oligocene of Europe and Africa. These may have been early relatives of the ostriches, but their status is questionable, and they may in fact represent multiple lineages of flightless paleognaths.Agnolin et al, Unexpected diversity of ratites (Aves, Palaeognathae) in the early Cenozoic of South America: palaeobiogeographical implications. Alcheringa An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology · July 2016 DOI: 10.1080/03115518.2016.1184898 The earliest fossils from this genus are from the early
Miocene The Miocene ( ) is the first Epoch (geology), geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about (Ma). The Miocene was named by Scottish geologist Charles Lyell; its name comes from the Greek words (', "less") and (', "new") and mean ...
(20–25 mya) and are from Africa, so it is proposed that they originated there. Then by the middle to late
Miocene The Miocene ( ) is the first Epoch (geology), geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about (Ma). The Miocene was named by Scottish geologist Charles Lyell; its name comes from the Greek words (', "less") and (', "new") and mean ...
(5–13 mya) they had spread to
Eurasia Eurasia () is the largest continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a ...

Eurasia
. By about 12 mya they had evolved into the larger size of which we are familiar. By this time they had spread to
Mongolia Mongolia (, mn, Монгол Улс, Mongol Uls, Mongolian script, Traditional Mongolian: '; literal translation, lit. "Mongol Nation" or "State of Mongolia") is a landlocked country in East Asia. It is bordered by Russia Mongolia–Russia ...

Mongolia
and later
southern Africa Southern Africa is the south South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Pr ...
. While the relationship of the African fossil species is comparatively straightforward, many Asian species of ostrich have been described from fragmentary remains, and their interrelationships and how they relate to the African ostriches are confusing. In
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
, ostriches are known to have become extinct only around or even after the end of the last ice age; images of ostriches have been found there on prehistoric pottery and
petroglyph A petroglyph is an image created by removing part of a rock Rock most often refers to: * Rock (geology) A rock is any naturally occurring solid mass or aggregate of minerals or mineraloid matter. It is categorized by the minerals ...

petroglyph
s. ''Struthio'' ostriches once co-existed with another lineage of flightless didactyl birds, the eogruids. Though Olson 1985 classified these birds as stem-ostriches, they until recently were universally considered to be related to cranes, any similarities being the result of
convergent evolution Convergent evolution is the independent evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; eithe ...
. More recent analysis, however, has once again linked the ostriches to the eogruids.Mayr, G. & Zelenkov, N. (2021) Extinct crane-like birds (Eogruidae and Ergilornithidae) from the Cenozoic of Central Asia are indeed ostrich precursors. ''Ornithology'', https://doi.org/10.1093/ornithology/ukab048 Competition from ostriches has been suggested to have caused the extinction of the eogruids, though this has never been tested and both groups do co-exist in some sites.


Distribution and habitat

Today, ostriches are only found natively in the wild in
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of i ...

Africa
, where they occur in a range of open arid and semi-arid habitats such as
savanna A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ' woods), a low-density forming open s with plenty of sunlight and li ...

savanna
s and the
Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it stretches across the south-central latitudes of between the Atlantic Ocean and the . The Sahel part o ...

Sahel
, both north and south of the equatorial forest zone. The
Somali ostrich The Somali ostrich (''Struthio molybdophanes''), also known as the blue-necked ostrich, is a large flightless bird native to the Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA) om, Gaafa Afrikaa, am, የአፍሪካ ቀንድ, yäafrika qänd, so, Ge ...

Somali ostrich
occurs in the
Horn of Africa The Horn of Africa (HoA), also known as the Somali Peninsula, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from ' "almost" and ' "island") is a landform surrounded by water on most of its border while being connected to a mainland fr ...

Horn of Africa
, having evolved isolated from the common ostrich by the geographic barrier of the
East African Rift File:East Africa Rift System GPS and stresses.png, Main rift faults, plates, plate boundaries, GPS plate velocities between adjacent blocks and minimum horizontal stress directions The East African Rift (EAR) or East African Rift System (EARS) is ...
. In some areas, the common ostrich's occurs alongside the Somali ostrich, but they are kept from interbreeding by behavioral and ecological differences. The
Arabian ostrich The Arabian ostrich (''Struthio camelus syriacus''), Syrian ostrich, or Middle Eastern ostrich is an extinct subspecies of the Common ostrich, ostrich that lived on the Arabian Peninsula and in the Near East until the mid-20th century. Distributi ...
es in
Asia Minor Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula A peninsula ( la, paeninsula from 'almost' and 'island') is a landform A landform is a natural or artificial feature of ...

Asia Minor
and
Arabia The Arabian Peninsula (; ar, شِبْهُ الْجَزِيرَةِ الْعَرَبِيَّة, , "Arabian Peninsula" or , , "Island of the Arabs") is a peninsula of Western Asia, situated northeast of Africa on the Arabian Plate. At , the ...

Arabia
were hunted to extinction by the middle of the 20th century, and in
Israel Israel (; he, יִשְׂרָאֵל, translit=Yīsrāʾēl; ar, إِسْرَائِيل, translit=ʾIsrāʾīl), officially the State of Israel ( he, מְדִינַת יִשְׂרָאֵל, label=none, translit=Medīnat Yīsrāʾēl; ), is a ...

Israel
attempts to introduce
North African ostrich The North African ostrich,red-necked ostrich, or Barbary ostrich (''Struthio camelus camelus'') is the nominate subspecies of the common ostrich from West Africa, West and North Africa. It is the largest subspecies, making it the List of largest b ...
es to fill their ecological role have failed. Escaped common ostriches in Australia have established
feral in St. Kilda, Scotland, St Kilda, Scotland A feral animal or plant (from la, fera, 'a wild beast') is one that lives in the wild but is descended from Domestication, domesticated specimens. As with an introduced species, the introduction of ...
populations.


Species

There are nine known species in this genus, of which seven are extinct. In 2008, ''S. linxiaensis'' was transferred to the genus '' Orientornis.'' Three additional species, ''S. pannonicus'', ''S. dmanisensis'', and ''S. transcaucasicus'', were transferred to the genus '' Pachystruthio'' in 2019. Several additional fossil forms are
ichnotaxa An ichnotaxon (plural ichnotaxa) is "a taxon In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular in ...
(that is, classified according to the organism's
trace fossil A trace fossil, also ichnofossil (; from el, ἴχνος ''ikhnos'' "trace, track"), is a fossil A fossil (from Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A clas ...
s such as footprints rather than its body) and their association with those described from distinctive bones is contentious and in need of revision pending more good material. The species are: *Prehistoric ** †'' Struthio barbarus'' Arambourg 1979 ** †'' Struthio brachydactylus'' Burchak-Abramovich 1939 (Pliocene of Ukraine) ** †'' Struthio chersonensis'' (Brandt 1873) Lambrecht 1921 (Pliocene of SE Europe to WC Asia) – oospecies ** †'' Struthio coppensi'' Mourer-Chauviré et al. 1996 (Early Miocene of Elizabethfeld, Namibia) ** †'' Struthio daberasensis'' Pickford, Senut & Dauphin 1995 (Early – Middle Pliocene of Namibia) – oospecies ** †'' Struthio epoasticus'' Bonaparte 1856 ** †'' Struthio kakesiensis'' Harrison & Msuya 2005 (Early Pliocene of Laetoli, Tanzania) – oospecies ** †''
Struthio karingarabensis ''Struthio'' is a genus of birds in the order (biology), order Struthioniformes, whose members are the ostriches. It is part of the infra-class Palaeognathae, a diverse group of flightless birds also known as ratites that includes the emus, Rhea ...
'' Senut, Dauphin & Pickford 1998 (Late Miocene – Early Pliocene of SW and CE Africa) – oospecies(?) ** †'' Struthio oldawayi'' Lowe 1933 (Late Pleistocene of Tanzania) – probably subspecies of ''S. camelus'' ** †'' Struthio orlovi'' Kuročkin & Lungo 1970 (Late Miocene of Moldavia) ** †'' Struthio wimani'' Lowe 1931 (Early Pliocene of China and Mongolia) *
Late Pleistocene The Late Pleistocene is an unofficial age in the international geologic timescale The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological datingChronological dating, or simply dating, is the process of attributing to an object or event ...
Holocene The Holocene ( ) is the current geological epoch In geochronology, an epoch is a subdivision of the geologic timescale that is longer than an age (geology), age but shorter than a period (geology), period. The current epoch is the Holocene E ...
** †'' Struthio anderssoni'' Lowe 1931, East Asian ostrich (Late Pleistocene of China to Mongolia)J. G. Andersson, Essays on the cenozoic of northern China. ''Memoirs of the Geological Survey of China (Peking)'', Series A, No. 3 (1923), pp. 1–152, especially pp. 53–77: "On the occurrence of fossil remains of Struthionidae in China."; and J. G. Andersson, Research into the prehistory of the Chinese. Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 15 (1943), 1–300, plus 200 plates. oospecies(?) ** †'' Struthio asiaticus'' Brodkorb 1863, Asian ostrich (Early Pliocene – Early Holocene of Central Asia to China? and Morocco) ** ''
Struthio camelus The common ostrich (''Struthio camelus'') or simply ostrich, is a species of large flightless bird native to certain large areas of Africa. It is one of two extant species of ostriches, the only living members of the genus ''Struthio'' in the rat ...

Struthio camelus
'', common ostrich ** '''', Somali ostrich


Footnotes


References

* * * * * * * * * * {{Taxonbar, from=Q2576337 Flightless birds Ratites Miocene birds Extant Miocene first appearances
Taxa named by Carl Linnaeus Taxonomy (biology), Taxa named by Carl Linnaeus (1707−1778), an 18th-century Swedish taxonomist, botanist, and zoologist. Known as the "father of modern taxonomy" – from his inventing and developing binomial nomenclature; the taxonomy (biology) ...