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Cassowaries of Papua New Guinea on stamps

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The PNG Post has issued a stampset and two souvenir sheets dedicated to cassowaries, very large flightless birds in the genus Casuarius native to the tropical forests of Papua New Guinea, nearby islands and northeastern Australia.

There are three extant species recognized today. The most common of these, the Southern Cassowary, is the third tallest and second heaviest living bird, smaller only than the ostrich and emu.

The other two species are the Northern Cassowary, Casuarius unappendiculatus and Dwarf Cassowary, Casuarius bennetti. They are also found in Papua New Guinea.

Cassowaries are part of the ratite group, which also includes the Emu, rheas, ostriches, and kiwis, and the extinct moas and elephant birds.

A cassowary was first brought from New Guinea to Europe in 1597 by Dutch traders and gets one of its names from the bright red, fleshy pouches of skin (wattles) that hang from its throat. The casque is bladelike and brownish, and the head, neck, and throat are featherless so bright blue skin can be seen.

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