Bird Classification Explained in this Extract from Sasol Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa
Namibiana Buchdepot have shared an excerpt from the invaluable Sasol Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa.
Sasol Larger Illustrated Guide to Birds of Southern Africa, written by Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey, Warwick Tarboton and Peter Ryan, is one of South Africa’s most trusted field guides.
In the extract, the authors explain the science behind the classification of birds, and how the tools have changed in recent years:
The classification of the world’s birds into orders, families and genera attempts to summarise their evolutionary history. Until recently, classification was based largely on morphological similarity, but in recent decades a variety of molecular tools, and particularly the ability to sequence DNA, the blueprint of life, has revolutionised our understanding of bird relationships. This remains a dynamic field of ornithology and the ‘final word’ is still far from being written, but we are gradually converging on a new, stable classification for birds. The most basic split remains that between the Paleognaths (ratites – ostriches, rheas, Emu, cassowaries and kiwis; tinamous – game bird-like birds confined to South and central America), and the Neognaths (all other birds).