Rhea (bird)

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The rheas are ratites (flightless birds, with unkeeled sterna) in the genus Rhea, native to South America. There are two existing species: the Greater or American Rhea and the Lesser or Darwin's Rhea. The genus name was given in 1752 by Paul Möhring and adopted as the English common name. Möhring's reason for choosing this name, from the Rhea of classical mythology, is not known. Depending on the South American region, the rhea is known locally as ñandú (Spanish), ema (Portuguese), suri (Quechua), or choique (Mapudungun).

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Description

Rheas are large, flightless birds with gray-brown plumage, long legs and long necks, similar to an ostrich. Males of R. americana can reach 1.50 metres (4.9 ft), and weigh up to 40 kilograms (88 lb).[2][3] Their wings are large for a flightless bird and are spread while running, to act like sails.[4] Unlike most birds, rheas have only three toes. Their tarsus has horizontal plates on the front of it. They also store urine separately in an expansion of the cloaca.[3]

Taxonomy

The recognized extant species are:

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