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The word "animal" comes from the Latin word animale, neuter of animalis, and is derived from anima, meaning vital breath or soul. In everyday colloquial usage, the word usually refers to non-human animals. The biological definition of the word refers to all members of the Kingdom Animalia. Therefore, when the word "animal" is used in a biological context, humans are included.
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About Hornbills / Bucerotidae

Posted by WishbonE at 1:48 AM

Friday, October 10, 2008

About Hornbills / Bucerotidae

Hornbills (family Bucerotidae) are very distinctive birds, characterized by a long, down-curved bill, sometimes with a casque on the upper mandible. The Bucerotidae include some 57 living species, about 10 of them endemic to the southern part of Africa. Their distribution ranges from Africa south of the Sahara through tropical Asia to the Philippines and Solomon Islands. Most are arboreal birds of dense forest, but the large ground-hornbills (Bucorvus), as their name implies, are terrestrial birds of open savanna. There are 54 species of Hornbills in the world. They comprise the order Bucerotiformes which is sub-divided into 2 families and 9 genera. Hornbills are strictly 'old world' birds meaning their range extends from Africa across India and Asia to Papua New Guinea. They do not occur in the Americas where a similar ecological niche of medium sized species is filled by Toucans. Hornbills come in a large range of sizes from the small Dwarf Red-billed Hornbill (Tockus camurus) weighing in at 111 grams to the Great Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri) standing nearly 3 ft tall and weighing 4190 grams. Hornbills occupy a wide variety of habitat from the Namib Desert to the lushest S. E. Asian tropical rainforest. They have been known to mankind for a long time and feature in many ancient customs and myths. Also, the distinctive features given to their skulls by their large beaks and casques has resulted in these skulls being used in ceremonial head gear.

In ancient Rome they were known as Rhinoceros birds.
Hornbills are the only birds in which the first two vertebrae (the axis and atlas) are fused together. They are also the only bird with a two-lobed kidney - all other birds having a three-lobed kidney. 38-165 cm; bill very large, curved, sculptured, often with casque; bare skin of eye and throat brightly colored; "eyelashes;" wings strong; tail long; legs short; feet broad-soled, syndactyl;

Hornbills are omnivorous with a range of diets from almost wholly carnivorous to almost wholly frugivorous (fruit eating). The large Southern Ground Hornbill is almost entirely carnivorous, feeding on lizards, frogs and small mammals as well as other birds. The much smaller Monteiro's Hornbill (Tockus monteiri) is also virtually entirely carnivorous feeding extensively on insects. At the other end of this continuum, and of more average size are a number of species including the Great Pied Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) and the Narcondam Wreathed Hornbill (Aceros narcondami) which are predominantly frugivorous. Interestingly, all the savannah and steppe species are carnivorous whilst all the frugivorous species are forest dwellers. However, a number of Tockus species are forest dwellers yet primarily carnivorous (insectivorous). Hornbills eat a variety of food, from animals to fruits and seeds. They are omnivorous, eating both meat and fruit in their meals.

People hunt hornbills for food and as a treatment for ailments. The birds play an important role in the customs and traditions of local people. Their feathers, heads, and casques are valued. They are often adopted as local mascots or state birds.


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