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Scientific classification
A. anhinga
A. melanogaster
A. rufa
A. novaehollandiae

Darters are a family of either two or four closely related species of Cormorant-like water bird with very long necks. They often swims with only the neck above water, and are fish-eaters.

The Anhinga of the Americas (Anhinga anhinga) is clearly individual, the Indian, African, and Australian darters are regarded as either three very similar species (A. melanogaster, rufa and novaehollandiae) or a single species with three widely separated subspecies (A. melanogaster melanogaster, A. melanogaster rufa and A. melanogaster novaehollandiae). In either case, both (or all four) share very similar behaviour and habitat.

This group is related to other Pelecaniformes as below:


  • Pelecanidae pelicans
  • Sulidae gannets and boobies
  • Phalacrocoracidae cormorants
  • Fregatidae frigatebirds
  • Phaethontidae tropicbirds
  • Anhingidae Anhinga and darters
    • The Anhinga Anhinga anhinga of the Americas.
    • The Indian Darter Anhinga melanogaster is widespread in the Indian sub-continent, and differs in appearance from African and American darters most recognisably by its white lateral neck stripe.
    • The African Darter Anhinga rufa occurs in tropical sub-Saharan Africa, and differs in appearance from Indian and American Darter most recognisably by its thin white lateral neck stripe against a rufous background colour.
    • The Australian Darter Anhinga novaehollandiae.

There is also an extinct species from Mauritius known only from bones, the Mauritian Darter Anhinga nanus

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