2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Birds

Red-footed Booby, Sula sula
Red-footed Booby, Sula sula
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Sulidae
Genus: Papasula
Olsen & Warhett, 1988
Genus: Sula
Brisson, 1760
  • Papasula abbotti
  • Sula nebouxii
  • Sula variegata
  • Sula dactylatra
  • Sula granti
  • Sula sula
  • Sula leucogaster

For fossil species, see text

The boobies are part of the family Sulidae, a group of seabirds closely related to gannets.

The boobies are large birds with long pointed wings and long bills. They hunt fish by diving from a height into the sea and pursuing their prey underwater. They have facial air sacs under their skin which cushion the impact with the water.

These are colonial breeders on islands and coasts, which normally lay one or more chalky blue eggs on the ground or sometimes in a tree nest. Their name is possibly based on the Spanish slang term bubi, meaning " dunce", as these tame birds had a habit of landing on board sailing ships where they were easily captured and eaten.

Owing to this, boobies are often mentioned to have been caught and eaten by shipwrecked sailors, notably Captain Bligh of HMAV Bounty and his loyalists during their famous voyage after being set adrift by Fletcher Christian and his mutineers.

Systematics and evolution

Five of the six extant booby species are in the genus Sula, with the sixth recently given its own genus Papasula, while the three gannets are usually treated in the genus Morus; some authorities consider that all nine species should be considered congeneric, in Sula. However, they are readily told apart by means of osteology, and the distinct lineages of gannets and boobies are known to have existed in such form for at least 3 million years.

The fossil record of boobies is not as well documented as that of gannets; possible reasons could be that booby species were less numerous in the late Miocene to Pliocene when gannets had their highest diversity, or that due to the more tropical distribution of boobies, many fossil species have simply not been found yet as most localities are in continental North America or Europe.

Genus Papasula

  • Abbott's Booby Papasula abbotti

Genus Sula

  • Blue-footed Booby Sula nebouxii
  • Peruvian Booby Sula variegata
  • Masked Booby Sula dactylatra
    • Tasman Booby, Sula (dactylatra) tasmani (possibly extinct)
  • Nazca Booby, Sula granti (formerly S. dactylatra granti)
  • Red-footed Booby Sula sula
  • Brown Booby Sula leucogaster
  • Sula pygmaea (fossil; Early Miocene of France)
  • Sula humeralis (fossil; Middle Pliocene)
  • Sula avita (fossil; formerly believed to be a gannet)
  • Sula magna (fossil)
  • Sula sulita (fossil)
Booby chick
Booby chick
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