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Discussion in 'Ostriches, Emu, Rheas' started by thegreatfandango, Jun 9, 2011.
Can Ratites crossbreed?
Quote:My guess is that the two species of Rhea can crossbreed with themselves, the single extant Ostrich species has several subspecies which are mixed up in captivity, and cassowaries can crossbreed among themselves. I don't know about the Kiwis. There is only one extant species of Emu, with several subspecies which are likely mixed up in captivity. But if you're asking if Rheas can crossbreed with Ostriches or Emu, I highly doubt it. They are ratites, yes, but that is a taxonomic Order within the Aves Class. Each is, if I remember correctly, in its own Family (though possibly Emus and Cassowaries are in one Family). The likelihood of successful fertilization between two species of different families is remote. Behavioral differences would probably be a further impediment (don't they all breed at slightly different times of year? And aren't there differences in courtship?). I guess that if someone wanted to try artificial insemination we could find out, but considering the time since their likely common ancestors was tens of millions of years ago (if not more), I doubt it'd be possible.
If this were a classroom discussion, I'd be nodding sagely nod, nod but a look of yokel incomprehension would cross my face the moment a specific question was asked of me. Mr Wiki says:
'Although the Emu was long classified with its closest relatives, the cassowaries, in the family Casuariidae, part of the ratite order Struthioniformes, an alternate classification has been recently adopted which splits the Casuariidae into their own order'
I googled 'ratite emu crossbreeding,' and wound up back in Aquaeyes' post here at BYC so yay, we're cutting edge! I also found a mob called 'Kuranda Envirocare,' who are apparently experts on the cassowary. (Guys, Kuranda is up behind Cairns, in the area to which the cassowary is native. I've been there. It's very pretty.) I'll ring them later, and ask them if they know if emus and cassowaries have ever crossbred/been crossbred.
if you could what would you call them????
The guys at Kuranda say that, no, emus and cassowaries don't interbreed/haven't been interbred.
Just the other morning, an adult with five chicks came past the living-room window. They were so close I could have hit them with a tennis ball. The chicks were just past the scurrying-behind-dad stage, that is, they can stride. Just as they passed the window, all five chicks, who were in a neat line behind dad, fell into step with him. They looked like some sort of Emu Scout Brigade parading past.
The reason why I asked is that there was a scientist who decided to crossbreed a ton of different domestic fowl and see what happened. It was discovered that Guniea and Peafowl could and Guniea and Chickens could as well. These offspring are sterile, but a hybrid of species. This has also been done with between Camels and Llama (via artificial means). Just interested to see if it had been attempted in the Raitie family. Look up Guniea/Chicken or "Guin" to see some awesome images of a Turken/Guniea cross (looks like a vulture) and a Guniea/Ameracuna cross (Looks like an Eagle).
Quote:I have seen the Llama/Camel crosses (they call them "Camas") on a few websites. They were bred with artificial insemination because of the size difference of the parents, but from what I remember, the offspring was fertile. Dromedaries, Bactrians, Llamas, Alpacas, Vicunas and Guanacos all have the same number of chromosomes. The Camelids evolved in the North America beginning 45 million years ago, but only spread to Asia in the last 2 million years, crossing the Bering land bridge during one of the ice ages. There used to be a great diversity in camel species, but only these six species remain today. Though they seem so different, they are a relatively closely related group. Hybrids between the Dromedary and Bactrian Camels have been known for a long time, and they are fertile. That is what prompted the experimental hybridization with the South American species.