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EARTH
SCIENCES


Psittaciformes



Amazona amazonica or Amy the Orange wing
Amazona amazonica (Orange-wing)
Image-Terri Brittin

Introduction

There are over 360 known species of parrot and as well as being fascinating creatures, capable of highly intelligent behaviour, they are also the most regularly kept birds in captivity. Easily identified by their large head and characteristic bill, parrots are considered to be a monophyletic group, meaning they're all the descendants of a common ancestor. Unlike any other members of the animal class Aves, parrots are the only birds to possess highly opposable zygodactyl feet and unique pigments contained within their feathers.

Due to the immense demand for them in the illegal pet trade and continuous habitat destruction, almost the entire Psittaciformes order is threatened by the risk of extinction in the wild. Considering all of this, it is surprising that very little scientific research has been carried out based on the biology of
Psittaciformes, compared with other animals similar in cognitive abilities, and much of their evolutionary history at the present time remains a mystery.



Author: Terri Brittin
Last updated 17/11/2006
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Website produced by students on the MSc Palaeobiology programme in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol for the academic year 2006 -7