SOUTHERN CASSOWARY - what’s with its head? - photophilde/Phillipe Dermine
All three cassowary species have casques that start to develop on top of their heads at one to two years of age. The casque is made of a firm material that is much like Styrofoam™ and covered with a thick layer of keratin. Although it is quite sturdy, the casque can be squeezed in the middle fairly easily. No one knows for sure why cassowaries have casques. They could reveal a bird’s age or be used as a sort of helmet or shock absorber that protects cassowaries’ heads as they stroll through the rain forest underbrush. The casque could work much like a hornbill’s casque does in helping the bird make sounds. We know that both the southern and dwarf cassowary can produce very low frequency sounds, called booms, which help them communicate through the dense rain forest, so perhaps the casque helps in some way. (Listen to a dwarf cassowary’s greeting: you’ll hear the low boom and then the sounds of preening.) Females tend to have larger casques than males.
Fact Source: http://www.sandiegozoo.org/animalbytes/t-cassowary.html
the casque of the cassowary resembles a big, flaky toenail
Southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) | +