rhea, common name for a South American bird of the family Rheidae, which is related to the ostrich. Weighing from 44 to 55 lb (20-25 kg) and standing up to 60 in. (152 cm) tall, the rhea is slightly smaller than the ostrich and lacks that bird's extravagant plumelike tail feathers. The rhea also differs from the unrelated ostrich in structure of the palate, pelvis, and foot. It is yellow and gray above, with a black head and dirty-white underside. The greater, or common, rhea (Rhea americana) is found from northeastern Brazil to Argentina. The somewhat smaller lesser, or Darwin's, rhea (Pterocnemia pennata) occurs from Patagonia to the high Andes. The rhea is typically a creature of the pampas and savannas and may often be found feeding in mixed herds along with cattle or guanaco, occupying an ecological niche similar to that of the ostrich and the zebra of Africa. Rheas feed on several kinds of plants, insects, and small vertebrates. While the old males tend to stay solitary, the young male is aggressive and highly polygamous, gathering about itself from three to seven hens. The nest is built in a dry and protected area, preferably near water. The male excavates a shallow hole with his bill, lines it with dry vegetable matter, and assumes all the incubation duties. He may incubate as many as 50 eggs, produced by a number of females over a period of weeks. Incubation takes from 35 to 40 days. The eggs, lemon yellow when laid, or greenish in the case of Darwin's rhea, weigh up to 2 lb (almost 1 kg) each. When hatched, the chicks are gray with darker stripes. The rhea is one of the flat-breastboned, or ratite, flightless birds. Rheas are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Struthioniformes, family Rheidae.
Rhea, in astronomy, one of the named moons, or natural satellites, of Saturn. Also known as Saturn V (or S5), Rhea is 950 mi (1530 km) in diameter, orbits Saturn at a mean distance of 327,487 mi (527,040 km), and has equal orbital and rotational periods of 4.517 earth days. The second largest of Saturn's moons, Rhea was discovered by the Italian-French astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini in 1672. Rhea's density of 1.3 means that it is composed primarily of water ice, rocky material making up about a third of its mass. Its leading hemisphere is highly reflective and heavily cratered, strongly resembling the cratered highlands of the moon, although Rhea's craters do not have high walls or a towering central peak; the trailing hemisphere is darker with bright wispy streaks and few impact craters.
Rhea, in Greek religion and mythology, a Titan. She was the wife and sister of Kronos, by whom she bore Zeus, Poseidon, Pluto, Hestia, Hera, and Demeter. She eventually helped Zeus overthrow Kronos. Her worship, which was orgiastic and associated with fertility rites, was particularly prominent in Crete. The Greeks often identified her with Gaea and Cybele. In Rome, Rhea was worshiped as Magna Mater and identified with Ops. See Great Mother Goddess.
Rhea may refer to,


  • Rhea (mythology), beautiful in Greek mythology, one of the Titans, the sister and wife of Cronus, the mother goddess who gave birth to many of the other major gods and goddesses
  • Rhea Silvia, in Roman mythology the mother of the twins Romulus and Remus
  • Rhea (mother of Aventinus), a separate figure to Rhea Silvia, mother of Aventinus by Hercules

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