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Flightless birds are birds that through evolution lost the ability to fly . There are over 60 extant species including the well known ratites ( ostrich , emu, cassowary, rhea and kiwi ) and penguins . The smallest flightless bird is the Inaccessible Island rail ( length 12.5 cm, weight 34.7 g). The largest (both heaviest and tallest) flightless bird , which is also the largest living bird , is the ostrich (2.7 m, 156 kg). Ostriches are farmed for their decorative feathers, meat and their skins , which are used to make leather . Many domesticated birds , such as the domestic chicken and domestic duck , have lost the ability to fly for extended periods, although their ancestral species, the red junglefowl and mallard , respectively, are capable of extended flight. A few particularly bred birds , such as the Broad Breasted White turkey , have become totally flightless as a result of selective breeding; the birds were bred to grow massive breast meat that weighs too much for the bird 's wings to support in flight. Flightlessness has evolved in many different birds independently. There were also other families of flightless birds , such as the now extinct Phorusrhacidae, that evolved to be powerful terrestrial predators. Taking this to a greater extreme, the terror birds (and their relatives the bathornithids), eogruids, gastornithiforms, and dromornithids (all extinct) all evolved similar body shapes – long legs , long necks and big heads – but none of them were closely related.