Photo reportedly shows giant, dinosaur-like bird claw. Here’s what we found


A viral photo shows a real, giant bird claw.


Rating: true

Rating: true

On May 25, 2024, a photo went viral on “A Southern Cassowary Claw. In case you didn’t think birds are dinosaurs,” read the caption for the post, which had been viewed more than 15.9 million times at the time of writing.

Google reverse-image search results showed the photo was also circulating on 9GAG, Instagram and Reddit. “The foot of a male southern cassowary, the most dangerous bird in the world, with enormous claws that can easily disembowel an adult man,” one report said.

In short, because the viral photo authentically showed a claw of a male Southern Cassowary, we rated this claim as ‘true’.

The photo was first shared on January 15, 2019 by Sarah Davis, then a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. “Holding the claws of a male southern cassowary… Just in case any of your friends still need convincing that 🐦 = 🦖!” she wrote, adding the hashtag #birdsaredinosaurs.

In later posts, Davis added that the bird “died of natural causes after a long and healthy life. It is now being used to study bird anatomy, color and feathers as part of multiple graduate research projects.” She also wrote that “cassowaries are native to Papua New Guinea and Australia, and are frugivores. But that doesn’t mean they don’t know how to use those impressive claws…”

In January 2019, the popular science website LiveScience published an article on the topic, titled “Why This Huge, Scaly Foot Looks Like It Came From a Dinosaur,” with Davis commenting on the viral photo. Davis told LiveScience that she “studied avian and non-avian dinosaurs, and analyzing modern birds provides valuable insights into the anatomy of extinct dinosaurs”:

For this project, Davis and other students dissected the cassowary to compare its anatomy with the anatomy of other flightless birds, “particularly ostriches and emus,” described in published studies, she said.

“In this case, we’re just looking at closely related species and looking for subtle differences in their legs,” Davis said. Cassowaries, ostriches and emus all cannot fly, but their lineages lost the ability to fly independently. Clues to these divergent evolutionary trajectories could be preserved in subtle variations in their leg muscles. “Those differences are what we’re looking for,” she said.

“Cassowaries will not hesitate to kick animals – and people – if they think they are threatening them, and the claw is a very effective tool for self-defense,” Davis said.

The foot’s exceptional size and weight also evoked “a very dinosauric feeling” — a perspective Davis wanted to share, she added.

Davis also said that she wanted to “spark people’s curiosity about the relationship between dinosaurs and birds” with her post accompanying the photo, adding that “birds are living dinosaurs, and the dinosaurs we see today are just as interesting like the dinosaurs that have become extinct over time. end of the Cretaceous.”

Researchers have discovered that modern-day birds are descendants of dinosaurs, specifically theropods.

“Birds that fill the world’s skies today are living dinosaurs, reminders of a distant and strange past. Decades of great new discoveries and studies have convinced researchers that there is a direct link between modern bird species and theropod dinosaurs” , according to London’s Natural History Museum. . “Many features and behaviors that characterize living birds were also found in their dinosaur ancestors. Perhaps most surprising of all was the discovery of dinosaurs with feathers. It completely changed the scientific community’s perception of their appearance and behavior.”

Numerous articles about the southern cassowary draw attention to the bird’s claws.

Encyclopedia Britannica wrote that the southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) lives in New Guinea, nearby islands and Australia: “The cassowary is known to kill people with slashing blows with its feet, as the innermost of its three toes bears a long, dagger-like nail.”

Similarly, the Australian Queensland government website warned that “the southern cassowary’s behavior is unpredictable. Cassowaries can cause serious injuries to people and pets by kicking with their large clawed feet.”

“They are most active at dusk, have a claw to rival that of Freddy Krueger, and are one of the few bird species that have killed humans – but don’t write off this flightless cousin of the emu as a thing of nightmares, ” read an article from the World Wildlife Fund on this subject. “When unprovoked, cassowaries are quite shy and peaceful, and play an important role in their tropical forest ecosystem.”

Below is a photo of a female southern cassowary on the beach at Etty Bay, Queensland:

(Getty Images)

This isn’t the first time we’ve fact-checked a bird-related claim. For example, in April 2024 we investigated whether owl chicks sleep face down because their heads are too heavy. In July 2022, we debunked the false claim that cedar waxwings die when their mates do.


Cassowary | Description, size and facts | Britannica. May 10, 2024,

“Southern Cassowary.” The Australian Museum, Accessed May 29, 2024.

—. “The Living Dinosaurs.” The Australian Museum, Accessed May 29, 2024.

Mindy Weisberger. “Why This Huge, Scaly Foot Looks Like It Came From a Dinosaur.” Livescience.ComJanuary 26, 2019,

Queensland;, c=AU; o=The state of. Southern Cassowary | Living with wild animals. Accessed May 29, 2024.

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