A couple of weeks ago we learned the amazing fact that grebes are the flamingo’s closest relatives. The next related bird, beyond flamingos, is amazing too. The sandgrouse (Pteroclidae) looks like a pigeon!
Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae) are seed-eating birds native to Africa and Asia that are famous for carrying water in their specialized belly feathers. The male sandgrouse flies as much as 18 miles from his nest to a watering hole where he soaks his belly in water. He then flies back to the nest where his young squeeze his belly feathers to get a drink.
The sandgrouse is nothing like a flamingo or grebe but he’s descended from the same extinct ancestor that spawned flamingos, grebes, sandgrouse, mesites and doves. The pink circle around the number 95 in the phylogenomic supertree shows where the birds diversified. (“95” is that ancestor.)
Who’s related to the sandgrouse? An extinct ancestor at “85” in the supertree spawned sandgrouse, mesites and doves (Columbidae).
This is the sandgrouse’s city kin. He’s also related to flamingos. 🙂
(photos from Wikimedia Commons and Steve Gosser; click on the captions to see the originals)