AskDefine | Define carinate

Dictionary Definition

carinate adj
1 having a ridge or shaped like a ridge or the keel of a ship; "a carinate sepal" [syn: ridged, carinated, keeled]
2 having or shaped like a carina or keel [syn: carinated, ridged, keeled] n : birds having keeled breastbones for attachment of flight muscles [syn: carinate bird, flying bird] [ant: ratite]

User Contributed Dictionary



From the latin carina, a boat keel.


  1. Keel-shaped, as in a boat's keel.
    The actuating pawl is carinate.
  2. Of a bird, having a keeled breastbone allowing the attachment of flight muscles.


Extensive Definition

In phylogenetic taxonomy, the Carinatae are considered the last common ancestor of Neornithes (living birds) and Ichthyornis (an extinct seabird of the Cretaceous). Defined in this way, the group includes all living birds, including ratites (ostrich, emu, etc.), as well as neognathous birds and a few Mesozoic forms.


Traditionally, Carinatae were defined as all birds having a keeled sternum. The carina or "keel" referred to a strong median ridge running down the length of the sternum, or breast bone. This is an important area for the attachment of flight muscles. Thus, all flying birds have a pronounced carina. Ratites, all of whom are flightless, lack a strong carina. Thus, living birds were divided into carinates and ratites. They also have a pterygoid bone that articulates with the palatine by means of a joint. The vomer is reduced or absent.
The difficulty with this scheme was that there have been (and still are) any number of flightless birds, without strong carinae, but which are descended directly from ordinary flying birds with carinae. Examples include the turkey, a galliform (chicken-like) bird, and the dodo, a columbiform (the pigeon family). None of these birds are ratites. Thus, this supposedly distinctive feature was easy to use, but had nothing to do with actual phylogenic relationship. The use of this term to describe the Ichthyornis-Neornithine group turned out to be equally inapt. Various dinosaurs -- apparently, remote ancestors and cousins of the Carinatae -- do possess a keeled sternum. So, evidently the presence of this structure does not necessarily imply its use in flight. This sort of definitional problem is one reason why the use of physical characteristics to name taxonomic groups is now discouraged. The characteristics that actually are unique to the Carinatae have little to do with the sternum. Rather, carinates are unique in having, for example, a globe-shaped, convex head on the humerus and fully fused bones in the lower leg and outer arm.


carinate in French: Carinatae
carinate in Italian: Carinatae
carinate in Lithuanian: Keteruočiai
carinate in Polish: Ptaki grzebieniowe
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