Why Can’t Emus Fly?


The emu is the second-largest living bird in the world after ostrich, native to Australia. Emus belong to a group of flightless birds known as ratites whose ancestors lived at the same time as dinosaurs.

A very common misconception is that Emus evolved from flightless birds and that’s why they are unable to fly, however that’s not true, they evolved from birds that could indeed fly.

According to a research, Emus gave up on flight because it was no longer needed for their survival due to lack of predators following the extinction of dinosaurs. Eventually they became fat and lazy due to plenty of food available. Emus can’t fly to escape danger but it can lash out with a deadly kick.

After evolution, their wings have shrunk however their legs have elongated and become more powerful which help them to sprint up to 31 mph (50 km/h) to deal with predators. They have long feet with three toes, one toe on each foot has a long talon for fighting. Emu can grow to be as tall as 2 meters (6.5 feet) in height and weigh up to 36 – 60 kg.

Can Emus Swim?

Emus are good swimmers, however they only do so when the need arises unless the area is flooded or they need to cross a river.

Can Emus Jump?

Although Emus can’t fly, their strong legs allow them jump up to 7 feet (2 meters) which is as tall as their own height.

Can emus walk backwards?

Emus cannot walk backwards, because it had never evolved a way to keep the body upright while walking backwards.