Morphological corollaries and ecological implications of flightlessness in the kakapo (Psittaciformes: Strigops habroptilus)

  title={Morphological corollaries and ecological implications of flightlessness in the kakapo (Psittaciformes: Strigops habroptilus)},
  author={Bradley C. Livezey},
  journal={Journal of Morphology},
  • B. Livezey
  • Published 1 July 1992
  • Environmental Science
  • Journal of Morphology
The morphological corollaries of flightlessness of the kakapo (Strigops habroptilus) have been studied using skin specimens, skeletons, and pectoral dissection of an anatomical specimen. These have been compared with the closely related, flighted kea (Nestor notabilis), and secondarily with other Psittaciformes and the convergent hoatzin (Cuculiformes: Opisthocomus hoazin). S. habroptilus is the most massive and sexually dimorphic psittaciform in the world, and has the smallest relative wing… 

An ecomorphological review of the dodo (Raphus cucullatus) and solitaire (Pezophaps solitaria), flightless Columbiformes of the Mascarene Islands

This paper describes a morphological study of the dodo Raphus cucullatus and solitaire Pezophaps solitaria extinct, flightless Columbiformes of the Mascarene Islands, Indian Ocean—based on mensural

Anatomy of the forelimb musculature and ligaments of Psittacus erithacus (Aves: Psittaciformes)

It is hypothesize that parrots are able to produce useful aerodynamic force during the upstroke, which is also known for pigeons and hummingbirds, and can be explained in terms of adaptations for flight with vertical body.

Bill morphology reflects adaptation to a fibrous diet in the kākāpō (Strigops: Psittaciformes)

The form of the rhinotheca agrees with the kākāpō’s feeding ecology as a generalist herbivore that grinds locally available fibrous material to assist digestion.

A New Flightless Gallinule (Aves: Rallidae: Gallinula) from the Oligo-Miocene of Riversleigh, Northwestern Queensland, Australia

  • W. Boles
  • Environmental Science, Biology
  • 2005
Fossil rails from Oligo-Miocene sites at Riversleigh, northwestern Queensland, Australia, are considered to represent a single species of gallinule Gallinula, described here as new, which shows similarities with the flightless species in the development of the fore- and hindlimb elements and in other characteristics of limb bone morphology associated with flightlessness.

Myology of the forelimb of Majungasaurus crenatissimus (Theropoda, Abelisauridae) and the morphological consequences of extreme limb reduction

The conformation of abelisaurid forelimb musculature was unique among theropods and further emphasizes the unusual morphology of the forelimbs in this clade.

On the skewed sex ratio of the Kakapo Strigops habroptilus: sexual and natural selection in opposition?

Subfossil material is used to examine the nature of the sex ratio prior to the arrival in New Zealand of humans and demonstrated that a sex bias in favour of males in the order of 2:1 existed at that time.

Why Seychelles Warblers fail to recolonize nearby islands : unwilling or unable to fly there?

It is tested the hypothesis that Seychelles Warblers show an adaptation typical for island birds: a low-cost reduced-size flight apparatus, and shows the morphological structures required for sustained flight, but may have the behavioural reluctance to cross what they may regard as extensive bodies of water.

Osteohistology of the Scapulocoracoid of Confuciusornis and Preliminary Analysis of the Shoulder Joint in Aves

It is hypothesized that the fused scapulocoracoid of Confuciusornis is secondarily evolved and suggest the primary factor responsible for this morphology may have been a decrease in mechanical stimulation at the glenoid ofconfuciusORNis relative to other volant birds, linked to the unique flight style of this taxon.

Higher-order phylogeny of modern birds (Theropoda, Aves: Neornithes) based on comparative anatomy. II. Analysis and discussion

A phylogenetic (cladistic) analysis of 150 taxa of Neornithes, including exemplars from all non-passeriform families, and subordinal representatives of Passeriformes, confirmed the topology among outgroup Theropoda and achieved robust resolution at virtually all levels of the NeornIthes.

Systematics and phylogeny of the Zygodactylidae (Aves, Neognathae) with description of a new species from the early Eocene of Wyoming, USA

The fossil record of Zygodactylidae from North America is reviewed and five new well-preserved fossils from the early Eocene Green River Formation of Wyoming are described, including two specimens identified as representing a new species and the first records of the taxon Zy godactylus outside Europe.




  • B. Livezey
  • Biology
    Evolution; international journal of organic evolution
  • 1989
Relative wing lengths and conformation of sterna in Rollandia microptera and Podiceps taczanowskii indicate that morphological changes associated with flightlessness are paedomorphic; intraspecific allometry in rollandia indicates that the underlying ontogenetic change may involve a delay in the start of pectoral‐alar development (postdisplacement).

Flightlessness in the Galápagos cormorant (Compsohalieus [Nannopterum] harrisi): heterochrony, giantism and specialization

Multivariate morphometries revealed that sexual dimorphism in external and skeletal dimensions is significantly greater in C. harrisi than in flighted cormorants and in other phalacrocoracids sampled.

Contributions to New Zealand's Late Quaternary avifauna. II: Dendroscansor decurvirostris, a new genus and species of wren (Aves: Acanthisittidae)

The post-cranial skeleton of Dendroscansor exhibits characteristics allying it more closely with Pachyplichas and Traversia than with Xenicus and the diminutive Acanthisitta, suggesting that the species was largely arboreal.

Morphometric patterns in Recent and fossil penguins (Aves, Sphenisciformes)

  • B. Livezey
  • Environmental Science
    Journal of zoology
  • 1989
Investigation of morphometric patterns within and among the 18 Recent species of Spheniscidae indicated that the families differ in a relatively complex skeletal dimension that only in part reflects overall size, and the need for a phylogenetic analysis of this highly specialized family of winged‐propelled diving birds is stressed.

Phylogenetic relationships and incipient flightlessness of the extinct Auckland Islands Merganser

The hypothesized phylogeny indicates that M. australis diverged from the other Mergus immediately after the Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) and is a member of a basal grade of comparatively small, southern hemisphere mergansers; the Brazilian Merganer (AM. octosetaceus) branched next and is the sister-group to the larger, more derived, northern hemisphere species of MerGus.

Comments on Taxonomy and Relationships in the Parrot Subfamilies Nestorinae, Loriinae and Platycercinae

Relationships and taxonomy in the parrot subfamilies Nestorinae, Loriinae and PIatycercinae are reviewed, using published information and museum material and it is proposed that they be placed in a separate subfamily (Psittaculirostrinae).

Morphometrics of Flightlessness in the Alcidae

Analysis of skeletal measurements revealed that the genera of flightless Alcidae were characterized by relatively short distal wing elements and dorsoventral flattening of all major wing elements, in combination with relatively large core and pelvic dimensions, which were most pronounced in Mancalla.


Proportions in the wing skeleton, intraspecific allometry, and limited data on growth indicate that the relatively short wing bones and remiges of flightless Tachyeres are produced developmentally by a delay in the growth of wing components, and that this heterochrony may underlie, in part, skeletal sexual dimorphism.

Evolution of the rails of the South Atlantic islands (Aves: Rallidae)

  • S. Olson
  • Environmental Science, Biology
  • 1973
Flightlessness in rails is shown to be a neotenic condition that involves only the control of relative growth of body parts, is evolved at a rapid rate, and therefore has limited taxonomic significance.

The wing musculature of the Brown kiwi Apteryx australis mantelli and its bearing on ratite affinities

The present skeleto-muscular data suggests that ratites are primitive birds that evolved from a primitive, volant ancestor and should be regarded as primitive birds, rather than as advanced birds that evolve from carinates.