The Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change
is a research museum of the Leibniz Association
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To cope with unfavourable temperatures of arid environments, birds have evolved different behavioural and physiological strategies to increase 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 vary from brightly coloured and well-visible patches to inconspicuous spots hidden by adjacent plumage. As there is some initial evidence for a possible thermoregulatory function of bare facial skin, this study will further address the morphological characteristics, phylogenetic occurrence and eco-physiological relevance of lateral head apteria across several bird families.