Seriema (Cariamidae) - Wiki
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[Photo] photo by Whaldener Endo date: 2006 Description: Seriema (Cariama cristata)
The Seriemas are a small and ancient family of tropical South American birds, belonging to the family Cariamidae, that are related to the rails and bustards.
They are terrestrial birds which run rather than fly (though they are able to fly for short distances.) They have long legs, necks, and tails, but only short wings, reflecting their way of life. They are brownish birds with short bills and erectile crests, found on fairly dry open grasslands.
They feed on insects, snakes and lizards. There are two species.
- Red-legged Seriema, or Crested Cariama, Cariama cristata. This is found from eastern Brazil, to central Argentina. It nests on the ground, laying two eggs.
- Black-legged Seriema, Chunga burmeisteri. This is found in northwest Argentina and Paraguay. It nests in a tree, laying two eggs.
The two extant species of seriema are thought to be the closest living relatives of a group of gigantic (up to ten feet tall) carnivorous "terror birds", the phorusrhacoids, which are known from fossils from South and North America. Several other related groups, such as the idiornithids and bathornithids were part of Palaeogene faunas in North America and Europe and possibly elsewhere too. However, the fossil record of the seriemas themselves is not good, with a single prehistoric species (Chunga incerta) having been described to date.
The seriemas have an extensible second claw that they can lift from the ground. Although this resembles the dinosaurian sickle claw of velociraptor and its relatives, it is not curved enough to be a real weapon.
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