Of the metatarsals the fifth occurs as an embryonic vestige near the joint; the first is reduced to its distal portion, and is, with the hallux, shoved on to the inner and posterior side of the foot, at least in the majority of birds.
The three middle metatarsals become fused together into a cannon bone; the upper part of the third middle metatarsal projects behind and forms the so-called hypotarsus, which in various ways, characteristic of the different groups of birds (with one or more sulci, grooved or perforated), acts as guiding pulley to the tendons of the flexor muscles of the toes.
The short feet of the penguins are an adaptation.
The middle metacarpals and metatarsals generally confluent, the outer ones (second and fifth) slender but complete, i.e.
The most interesting genera are, however, the Upper Oligocene and Lower Miocene Gelocus and Prodremotherium, which have perfectly selenodont teeth, and the third and fourth metacarpal and metatarsal bones respectively fused into an imperfect cannon-bone, with the reduction of the lateral metacarpals and metatarsals to mere remnants of their upper and lower extremities.