Online Encyclopedia

SERIEMA, or CARIAMA

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 668 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SERIEMA, or CARIAMA, a South-American bird, sufficiently well described and figured in G. de L. Marcgrav's work (Hist. rer. nat. Brasiliae, p. 203), posthumously published by De Laet in 1648, to be recognized by succeeding ornithologists,' among whom M. J. Brisson in 176o acknowledged it as forming a distinct genus Cariama, while Linnaeus regarded it as a second species of Palamedea (see SCREAMER), under the name of P. cristata, Englished by J. Latham in 1785 (Synopsis, v. 20) the " Crested Screamer,"—an appellation since transferred to a wholly different bird. Nothing more seems to have been known of it in Europe till 1803, when Azara published at Madrid his 1 Yet Forbes states (Ibis, 1881, p. 358) that Seriema comes from Siri, " a diminutive of Indian extraction," and Ema, the Portuguese name for the Rhea (see EMEU), the whole thus meaning " Little Rhea." 2 This distinguished author twice cites the figure given by Thienemann (Fortpflanzungsgesch. gesammt. Vogel, pl. lxxii. fig. 14) asfully covered with grey down, relieved by brown, and remain for some time in the nest. The food of the adult is almost exclusively animal, insects, especially large ants, snails, lizards and snakes, but it also eats certain large red berries. Until 186o the Seriema was believed to be without any near relative in the living world of birds;' but in the Zoological Proceedings for that year (pp. 334–336) G. Hartlaub described an allied species discovered by H. C. C. Burmeister in the territory of the Argentine Republic.' This bird, which has since been regarded as entitled to generic division under the name of Chunga burmeisteri (P.Z.S., 187o, p. 466, pl. xxxvi.), and seems to be known in its native country as the " Chunnia," differs from the Seriema by frequenting forest or at least bushy districts. It is also darker in colour, has less of the frontal crest, shorter legs, a longer tail, and the markings beneath take the form of bars rather than stripes, while the bill, eyes and legs are all black. In other respects the difference between the two birds seems to be immaterial. There are few birds which have more exercised the taxonomer than this, and the reason seems to be plain. The Seriema must be regarded as the not greatly modified heir of some very old type, such as one may fairly imagine to have lived before many of the existing groups of birds had become differentiated, and it is probable that the extinct birds known as Stereornithes, and in particular the fossil Phororhachos from the Miocene of Patagonia, were closely allied to its ancestors. It is now placed in the family Cariamidae of Gruiform birds (see BIRD). (A. N.)
End of Article: SERIEMA, or CARIAMA
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