Brown Booby, Sula leucogaster
The bird family Sulidae comprises the gannets and boobies. Both groups are medium-large coastal seabirds that plunge-dive for fish. The species in this family are often considered congeneric, placing all in the genus Sula. However, bones of Sula (boobies) and Morus (gannets) at least can in most cases be readily distinguished, and Abbot's Booby has traits of morphology and behavior not found in any other species.
Systematics and evolution
The fossil record of sulids is quite extensive due to the many Miocene/Pliocene forms that have been recovered. The initial radiation formed a number of genera which are now completely extinct, such as the freshwater Masillastega or the bizarre Rhamphastosula which had a bill shaped like an Aracari's; the modern genera are (as with most genera of extant birds) documented from the Miocene onwards.
- Genus Masillastega (fossil; Middle Eocene of Messel, Germany)
- Genus Eostega (fossil; Middle/Late Eocene of Cluj-Manastur, Romania)
- Genus Empheresula (fossil; Late Oligocene of Gannat, France - Middle Miocene of Steinheimer Becken, Germany)
- Genus Microsula (fossil; Lower Miocene of Léognan - Grund Middle Miocene of Austria)
- Genus Sarmatosula (fossil; Middle Miocene of Credinţa, Romania)
- Genus Rhamphastosula (fossil; Pisco Early Pliocene of SC Peru)
- Genus Miosula (fossil)
- Genus Palaeosula (fossil)
- Sulidae gen. et sp. indet. (fossil; Thalberg Late Oligocene of Germany)
- Genus Morus - gannets
- Genus Sula - boobies
- Genus Papasula - Abbott's Booby
For prehistoric species of the extant genera, see the genus articles.
- Sulidae videos on the Internet Bird Collection