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Temporal range: Early Miocene – Recent
18–0 Ma
Male African darter
Anhinga rufa
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Suliformes
Family: Anhingidae
Reichenbach, 1849[1]
Genus: Anhinga
Brisson, 1760
Type species
Plotus anhinga
Linnaeus, 1766

Anhinga anhinga
Anhinga melanogaster
Anhinga rufa
Anhinga novaehollandiae
(but see text)

World distribution of the family Anhingidae

Anhinginae Ridgway, 1887
Plotinae Rafinesque, 1815
Ptynginae[verification needed] Poche, 1904

Plottus Scopoli, 1777 (unjustified emendation)
Plotus Linnaeus 1766
Ptinx[verification needed] Bonaparte, 1828
Ptynx Möhring 1752 (pre-Linnean)

The darters, anhingas, or snakebirds is a family of aquatic birds which resemble pelicans. They mainly occur in the tropics.

There are four living species. Three of the species are common, the fourth is rarer, and listed as near-threatened by the IUCN.

The term snakebird is used for any of these species: They have a long thin neck. When they swim, only the head and neck are visible. This looks like a snake. Darter is a term that refers to they way these birds catch fish: They impale the fish with their beak. The American darter is sometimes called anhinga. Sometimes it is called water turkey, even though it is unrelated to the turkey.

References[change | change source]

  1. Walter J. Bock (1994): History and Nomenclature of Avian Family-Group Names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, number 222; with application of article 36 of ICZN.