Domain Eukarya
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Subphylum Vertebrata
Superclass Gnathostomata
Class Aves OR: Class Archosauromorpha
Sublcass Neornithes OR: Subclass Dinosauria, Infraclass Aves
Superorder Carinatae
Order Pelicaniformes
Family Sulidae

A family of 3 genera and 10 species of tropical seabirds, known variously as "gannets" and "boobies".  All species are pelagic, meaning they stay at sea most of the time, and come ashore only to breed (in the list below, approximate breeding ranges are given).   All species resemble pelicans, and hunt by dive-bombing for fish.

The different species, filling the same evolutionary niche, resemble each other very closely in form, but they can be differentiated by color: the color of their bills, the color of their plumage, and especially the color of their webbed feet.  Viewers of television nature programs will recognize the Blue-footed booby, a well known colonizer of the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador.

Boobies get their name from the Spanish word bobo, meaning "stupid".  They earned this name in the same way as the dodo, by having no known predators and no fear of humans when they were first encountered by the Spanish.  Unlike dodoes, most species have a wide distribution, and are in no danger of extinction.

Genus Morus:

Genus Papasula: Genus Sula:

Ocean Wanderers

Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan

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