Share this entry

zygodactyl Line breaks: zygo|dac¦tyl
Pronunciation: /ˌzʌɪɡə(ʊ)ˈdaktɪl/

Definition of zygodactyl in English:


(Of a bird’s feet) having two toes pointing forward and two backward: the cuckoo’s zygodactyl toes
More example sentences
  • Their legs are strong, and feathered in many species; they have zygodactyl raptorial feet.
  • Paleogene fossils also document diverse extinct branches of the neornithine tree, ranging from large pseudotoothed seabirds to giant flightless land birds to small zygodactyl perching birds.
  • All the small zygodactyl or semizygodactyl forms, generally from Eocene deposits, are jumbled together in the family Zygodactylidae.


Back to top  
A bird with zygodactyl feet.



Pronunciation: /ˌzʌɪɡə(ʊ)ˈdaktɪləs/
Example sentences
  • Owls are zygodactylous: two toes face anteriorly and two toes face posteriorly.
  • The feet are zygodactylous, with two toes pointed forward and two toes pointed backward.
  • The feet of most woodpeckers are large and zygodactylous, meaning two toes point forward and two backward on each foot.


Example sentences
  • Rather than developing zygodactyly to aid running, Harris suggests that both the roadrunner and its predecessor began as tree dwellers and moved to the ground later.
  • The condition with 2 in front and 2 in back is called zygodactyly, and it's limited to a few groups, though it seems to have evolved multiple times.
  • The full spectrum of observed defects ranges from hypoplastic nails, cutaneous syndactyly, bony syndactyly, transverse reduction defects, zygodactyly, ectrodactyly, polydactyly, and brachydactyly.

Definition of zygodactyl in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day confidant
Pronunciation: ˈkänfəˌdant
a person with whom one shares a secret...