Anisodactylous – Definition & Meaning

Anisodactylous is a term that is not commonly used in everyday language, but it has a specific meaning in the scientific and biological world. This term is used to describe the structure of the feet of certain animals, including birds and reptiles. In this article, we will explore the definition and meaning of anisodactylous, its origins, and its associations.


The term anisodactylous refers to an animal’s foot structure where the toes are arranged in a particular pattern. In anisodactylous animals, the first and fourth toes are directed backward, while the second and third toes point forward. This arrangement of toes provides a strong grip and balance, which is essential for animals that climb trees or walk on uneven surfaces.


The term anisodactylous comes from two Greek words: “aniso,” which means unequal, and “daktylos,” which means finger or toe. The term was first used in the mid-19th century by naturalists and biologists to describe the foot structure of certain birds and reptiles.

Meaning in different dictionaries

Anisodactylous is not a commonly used term in everyday language, but it can be found in some scientific and biological dictionaries. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, anisodactylous means “having the first and fourth toes directed backward and the second and third toes directed forward.” The Oxford English Dictionary defines anisodactylous as “having the toes arranged in a particular pattern for climbing or grasping.”


Anisodactylous animals are typically climbers, perching birds, and tree-dwelling reptiles. Examples of anisodactylous birds include woodpeckers, parrots, and owls. Reptiles such as chameleons, iguanas, and geckos are also anisodactylous.


Some synonyms of anisodactylous include zygodactylous, heterodactylous, and anisodactylic. These terms describe different patterns of toe arrangement in animals.


The antonym of anisodactylous is syndactylous, which refers to animals that have two or more toes fused together. Examples of syndactylous animals include some species of birds, such as ducks and swans.

The same root words

The root words of anisodactylous are “aniso” and “daktylos,” which are also found in other scientific terms. For example, anisocytosis refers to an abnormal variation in the size of red blood cells, while dactylitis is inflammation of the fingers or toes.

Example Sentences

  1. The woodpecker’s anisodactylous feet allow it to cling to tree trunks while it searches for insects.
  2. Chameleons have anisodactylous feet that help them grip onto branches and climb trees.
  3. The anisodactylous arrangement of toes in parrots allows them to grasp and manipulate objects with great dexterity.
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