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Definition of RATITE
: a bird with a flat breastbone; especially: any of various mostly flightless birds (as an ostrich, rhea, emu, moa, or kiwi) with small or rudimentary wings and no keel on the sternum that are probably of polyphyletic origin and are assigned to a number of different orders
Origin of RATITE
ultimately from Latin ratitus marked with the figure of a raft, from ratis raft
Any bird species that cannot fly because its smooth, or raftlike, sternum (breastbone) lacks a keel to which flight muscles can be anchored. The group includes some of the largest birds of all time. Two extinct types, the slow-moving, heavy-bodied elephant bird of Madagascar and the moas of New Zealand, grew to 10 ft (3 m) tall. Extant ratites include the cassowary, emu, kiwi, ostrich, and rhea.