The new study finds that the relationship between humans and cassowaries dates back to the late Pleistocene era. That is many years before humans domesticated chickens and geese. The research is detailed in the October issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.The lead author of the study said that this is not some small fowl. Kristina Douglass, an archaeologist at Penn State said that it is a huge, ornery, flightless Bird. The dwarf variety weighs 44 pounds. The lead author assesses the remains of ancient cassowary eggshells.
Douglass and an international team of researchers determined that some 18,000 years ago, people in New Guinea were collecting, hatching and possibly raising cassowary chicks, which the researchers consider a sophisticated food-gathering technique. This represents the earliest known evidence of intentional Bird rearing.
People would have preserved these eggs to eat them or to raise the hatched chicks for their meat and feathers. The late-stage fertilized eggs are popular street food in several East Asian and South Pacific countries like the Philippines.