The Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig

is a research museum of the Leibniz Association

Lateral apteria of the avian head



Quick facts

Project title: 
Morphological characteristics, phylogenetic occurrence and potential eco-physiological relevance of lateral apteria of the avian head
ZFMK Project lead: 
Object of research: 


To cope with unfavourable temperatures of arid environments, birds have evolved different behavioural and physiological strategies to expand their temperature tolerance. One of these previously unstudied adaptations could be the emission of body heat via exposed surfaces of facial skin and lateral head apteria (apteria temporalia). Such unfeathered areas can be found in different forms of appearance, varying from brightly coloured and well-visible patches to inconspicuous spots hidden by adjacent plumage. As there is first evidence for a possible thermoregulatory function of facial skin-exposing behaviour, this study addresses the morphological characteristics, phylogenetic occurrence and eco-physiological relevance of lateral head apteria across several bird families.


Contact person

Head of Section Ornithology
+49 228 9122-246
+49 228 9122-212
t.toepfer [at]