Vultures are large, social raptors that live on every continent except Antarctica and Australia. The 23 species are divided into New World vultures from the Americas and Old World vultures from Europe, Asia, and Africa. An example of convergent evolution, these groups evolved independently and are not closely related.
Most vultures are scavengers, feeding primarily on carrion. Their cleaning service is invaluable to humans. By hoovering up the remains of decaying bodies, they prevent stench, significantly curtail carbon emissions, and eliminate bacteria such as botulism and plague that can be released during decomposition. (Learn more about vultures with your kids.)
Vultures have adaptations that allow them to consume rotten food in a way that