:"This article is about the petrel seabirds. For other uses, see petrel (disambiguation). The flammable liquid is correctly spelt petrol.

Petrels are tube-nosed seabirds in the bird order Procellariiformes. The common name does not indicate relationship beyond that point, as "petrels" occur in three of the four families within that group (except the Albatross family, Diomedeidae). Having a fossil record that was assumed to extend back at least 60 million years, the Procellariiformes was long considered to be among the older bird groupings, other than the ratites, with presumably distant ties to penguins and loons. However, recent research and fossil finds such as "Vegavis" show that the Galliformes (Pheasants, Grouse and relatives), and Anseriformes (ducks, geese and swans) are olderFact|date=February 2007, while the relationships of the tube-nosed seabirds are still not fully resolved.

All the members of the order are exclusively pelagic in distribution — returning to land only to breed.

The family Procellariidae is the main radiation of medium-sized true petrels, characterised by united nostrils with medium septum, and a long outer functional primary. It is dominant in the Southern Oceans, but not so in the Northern Hemisphere.

It includes a number of petrel groups, the relationships between which have finally been resolved to satisfaction (Austin, 1996; Bretagnolle "et al"., 1998; Nunn & Stanley, 1998 and Brooke, 2004):

*The fulmarine petrels: 7 species of surface predators and filter feeders, breed in high latitudes but migrate along cool currents to the north. All but "Fulmarus" essentially confined to the south, "Fulmarus" apparently colonised the N hemisphere during the Early Miocene.
**The huge giant petrels, genus "Macronectes", which are convergent with the albatrosses,
**The true fulmars, genus "Fulmarus",
**Antarctic Petrel "Thalassoica antarctica",
**Cape Petrel "Daption capense",
**Snow Petrel "Pagodroma nivea".

*The prions: A specialised group of a few very numerous species, all southern. They have a small, fulmar-like form and mostly filter-feed on zooplankton.
** "Pachyptila", the prions proper
** Blue Petrel "Halobaena caerula".

*The procellariine petrels, larger or mid-sized species feeding on fish and molluscs which are fairly close to the prions:
** "Procellaria" and
** "Bulweria".

*Shearwaters: numerous species in several genera with a medium number of species.
** "Calonectris",
** "Puffinus", which is in fact two rather distinct groups of larger and smaller species,
** "Pseudobulweria",
** Kerguelen Petrel "Lugensa brevirostris".

*The gadfly petrels: These are a considerable number of agile short-billed petrels in the genus "Pterodroma" which include the endangered Bermuda Petrel or Cahow and a considerable number of forms rendered extinct by human activity.

The family Hydrobatidae is the storm-petrels, small pelagic petrels with a fluttering flight which often follow ships.

The family Pelecanoididae is the four species of diving petrels, genus "Pelacanoides". These are auk-like small petrels of the southern oceans.


The word "petrel" comes from the Latin name for the Christian Saint Peter, and refers to the habits of certain species to hover just above the ocean waves, with their feet barely touching the water, thus giving an appearance of walking on water, as St. Peter is said to have done.

ee also

* Skua
*Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels


* Austin, Jeremy J. (1996): Molecular Phylogenetics of "Puffinus" Shearwaters: Preliminary Evidence from Mitochondrial Cytochrome "b" Gene Sequences. "Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution" 6(1): 77–88 DOI|10.1006/mpev.1996.0060 (HTML abstract)

* Bretagnolle, V., Attié, C., Pasquet, E., (1998) "Cytochrome-"B" evidence for validity and phylogenetic relationships of "Pseudobulweria" and "Bulweria" (Procellariidae)" "Auk" 115(1):188-195 [ PDf fulltext]

* Brooke, M. (2004): "Albatrosses and Petrels Across the World". Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-850125-0

* Nunn, Gary B. & Stanley, Scott E. (1998): Body Size Effects and Rates of Cytochrome "b" Evolution in Tube-Nosed Seabirds. "Molecular Biology and Evolution" 15: 1360-1371. [ PDF fulltext] [ Corrigendum]

External links

* [ Petrel and Shearwater videos] on the Internet Bird Collection
* [ Agreement on the Conservation of Albatrosses and Petrels (ACAP)]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • pétrel — [ petrɛl ] n. m. • 1699; de l angl. pitteral (1676) ♦ Oiseau marin migrateur (procellariiformes), palmipède qui vole au ras de l eau. « Le grand pétrel est aussi gros que l albatros commun » ( Baudelaire). ● pétrel nom masculin (anglais petrel,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Petrel — war eine britische Höhenforschungsrakete. Die Petrel 1 wurde wie die Skua 1 mit drei Startraketen vom Typ Chick gestartet. Die Petrel 1 war 3,34 m lang, hatte einen Durchmesser von 19 Zentimetern und erreichte eine Gipfelhöhe von 140 Kilometern.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Petrel — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El nombre de Petrel puede hacer referencia a: Petrel (ave). Un ave marina de la familia Procellariidae. Petrel, un municipio español de la provincia de Alicante, cuyo nombre oficial en valenciano es Petrer. Un avión… …   Wikipedia Español

  • petrel — PETRÉL, petrei, s.m. Pasăre marină de culoare albă, cu spatele şi aripile cenuşii, care se hrăneşte cu peşti şi trăieşte în colonii (Larus canus). – Din fr. pétrel. Trimis de oprocopiuc, 15.03.2004. Sursa: DEX 98  PETRÉL s. v. pescar. Trimis de… …   Dicționar Român

  • Petrel — Pe trel, n. [F. p[ e]trel; a dim. of the name Peter, L. Petrus, Gr. ? a stone ( John i. 42); probably so called in allusion to St. Peter s walking on the sea. See {Petrify}.] (Zo[ o]l.) Any one of numerous species of longwinged sea birds… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • petrel — 1670s, pitteral, modern spelling first recorded 1703 by English explorer William Dampier (1651 1715), who wrote the bird was so called from its way of flying with its feet just skimming the surface of the water, which recalls the apostle s walk… …   Etymology dictionary

  • petrel — s. m. Grande ave dos mares antárticos. • Plural: petréis …   Dicionário da Língua Portuguesa

  • petrel — petrel, petrol The first is a bird, the second a fuel (AmE gasoline). They are both pronounced the same way, pet rǝl …   Modern English usage

  • petrel — sustantivo masculino 1. (macho y hembra) Familia Procelaridae o Hydrobatidae. Ave marina palmípeda de color generalmente negro, que vive en alta mar y se alimenta de peces que caza nadando o volando sobre la superficie marina …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • petrel — (De or. inc.). m. Ave palmípeda, muy voladora, del tamaño de una alondra, común en todos los mares, donde se la ve a enormes distancias de la tierra, nadando en las crestas de las olas, para coger los huevos de peces, moluscos y crustáceos, con… …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • petrel — ► NOUN ▪ a seabird of a kind that typically flies far from land. ORIGIN from the name of St Peter, because of the bird s habit of flying low with legs dangling, and so appearing to walk on the water (as did St Peter in the Gospel of Matthew) …   English terms dictionary

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