Neognathae (Typical Birds)


The Neognathae comprise a superorder of flying, or secondarily flightless, birds in the class Aves and subclass Neornithes. They are characterized by possession of a keeled sternum and of a bony palate of the neognathous type.

Keywords: neognathae; palaeognathae; neornithes; aves; birds

Figure 1.

Palate bones, in ventral view, of (a) domestic fowl (Gallus gallus, Neognathae); (b) emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae, Palaeognathae). After Pycraft 1901b. Key: bp, basipterygoid process; mxp, maxillopalatine; pal, palatine; pmx, premaxilla; pt, pterygoid; qu, quadrate; ros, parasphenoid rostrum; vo, vomer. Note the reduced vomers (black) and juxtaposed palatines (dark grey) in Neognathae. In Palaeognathae, the palatines are separated by relatively large vomers.


Further Reading

Bock WJ (1963) The cranial evidence for ratite affinities. Proceedings XIII International Ornithological Congress, Ithaca, NY, 17–24 June 1962, vol. 1, pp. 39–54. Baton Rouge, LA: American Ornithologists' Union.

Bock WJ and Bühler P (1989) The evolution and biogeographical history of the palaeognathous birds. In: van den Elzen R, Schuchmann K‐L, and Schmidt‐Koenig K (eds) Proceedings of the International Centennial Meeting of the Deutsche Ornithologen‐Gesellschaft, Current Topics in Avian Biology, pp. 31–36. Bonn: Verlag der Deutschen Ornithologen‐Gesellschaft.

de Beer G (1956) The evolution of ratites. Bulletin of the British Museum (Natural History), Zoology 4: 57–70.

Feduccia A (1995) Explosive evolution in Tertiary birds and mammals. Science 267: 637–638.

Gauthier J (1986) Saurischian monophyly and the origin of birds. Memoirs of the California Academy of Sciences 8: 1–55.

Huxley TH (1867) On the classification of birds; and on the taxonomic value of the modifications of certain of the cranial bones observable in that Class. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, pp. 415–472. London: Zoological Society of London.

McDowell S (1948) The bony palate of birds. Part I. The Palaeognathae. Auk 65: 520–549.

Pycraft WP (1901a) On the morphology and phylogeny of the Palaeognathae (Ratitae and Crypturi) and Neognathae (Carinatae). Transactions of the Zoological Society of London, vol. XV, pp. 149–290. London: Zoological Society of London.

Pycraft WP (1901b) Some points in the morphology of the palate of the Neognathae. Journal of the Linnean Society, Zoology 28: 343–357.

Sibley CG and Ahlquist JE (1990) Phylogeny and Classification of Birds: A Study in Molecular Evolution. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Wetmore A (1960) A classification for the birds of the world. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 139: 1–37.

Contact Editor close
Submit a note to the editor about this article by filling in the form below.

* Required Field

How to Cite close
Andors, Allison V(Apr 2001) Neognathae (Typical Birds). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001551]