Revealing a “Modern-Day Velociraptor”
To celebrate its centennial, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has commissioned Ink Dwell studio to create a mural 70 feet long and 40 feet high depicting the 375-million-year evolution of birds through paintings of 271 species.
When complete it will be the world’s only mural depicting all the modern families of birds in one place. It’s a historic project, on a massive canvas, and artist Jane Kim got started with an appropriately giant bird: the southern cassowary.
As a continent colonized by convicts and packed with some of the world’s most venomous animals, it’s fitting that Australia is home to a bird as prickly as the southern cassowary.
Standing five feet tall and topping 100 pounds, the flightless cassowary is the MMA champion of the avian world. It can jump five feet in the air, swim across rivers, and has inner toes that bear five-inch slashing blades, built to disembowel.
Though shy, these modern-day velociraptors have been known to attack and even kill humans, a prospect so “terrifying and ignominious” that Outside magazine once ranked death by cassowary as one of the 10 worst ways to die in the wild. Still, attacks on people are generally rare, mostly occur as a result of poor human judgment, and can usually be avoided by following this simple rule: do not provoke the giant bird armed with murderous dagger claws.