Introduction to the Neognathae

From albatrosses to zebra finches

These pink flamingos are but one species of the 8500 or so known species of neognath birds. The Neognathae -- a group defined on the basis of palate structure, with a mobile palate and some bones reduced -- contains the vast majority of living birds. First appearing in the fossil record in the Late Cretaceous, about 70 million years ago, neognath birds range from swimming and diving birds such as penguins, to high-performance gliders such as petrels and albatrosses, to masters of powered flight such as swifts and hummingbirds.

Flamingos, incidentally, are not born pink; they turn pink when they feed on cyanobacteria growing in the water.

For more ornithological information, try the Electronic Resources on Ornithology or Birds at Animal Diversity Web.

Or, for more information about specific bird taxa, we recommend the following sites: