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Turniciformes / Gruiformes
 
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Opisthocomiformes, Turniciformes, Gruiformes
Families: Opisthocomidae, Button-quail, Sunbitterns, Bustands, Cranes, Limpkins, Sungrebes,
   Trumpeters, Seriamas, Kagus, Rails, Mesites
 
Images:   
Clapper Rail, Black-crowned Crane, Buff-banded Rail, Eurasian Coot
 
  (Order Opisthocomiformes - Hoatzins) incertae sedis
   Family Opisthocomidae - Hoatzin
Wiki     ToL     EoL
 
See description with the Cuculiformes. Clements (2007) is the only source presently placing Hoatzins within the gruiform-assemblage.
 
  Order Turniciformes - Buttonquail, Hemipodes
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  Order Gruiformes - Rail-like Birds
   (Button-Quail, Cranes, Rails, Bustards, and Allies)
Wiki     ToL     EoL
  The gruiforms are one of the older lineages of modern birds but recent evidence suggests that the group is widely polypyletic (below). Ancestral gruiforms may have been among the survivors of the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction (KT) event (65 MYBP). As with the Galliformes, the Gruiformes includes a wide diversity of morphologically diverse subgroups (including 207 species), many of which are unfamiliar to us in North America.

   Clements (2007) lists 12 families:

   Family Opisthocomidae - Hoatzin (1 species)
   Family Mesithornithidae - Mesites (3 species)
   Family Turnicidae - Buttonquail (16 species)
   Family Gruidae - Cranes (15 species)
   Family Aramidae - Limpkins (1 species)
   Family Psophiidae - Trumpeters (3 species)
   Family Rallidae - Rails, Gallinules, Coots (135 species)
   Family Heliornithidae - Finfoots (Sungrebes) (3 species)
   Family Rhynchetidae - Kagu (1 species)
   Family Eurypygidae - Sunbittern (1 species)
   Family Cariamidae - Seriemas (2 species)
   Family Otidae - Bustards (26 species)

   However, Sibley and Ahlquist (1990) consider this to be a polyphyletic group containing two orders widely separated in their scheme of classification. They follow Waterfowl and typical ducks with the Parvclass Turnicae including the Order Turniciformes ( Buttonquail). Thus:

   Order Turniciformes
      Family Turnicidae - Buttonquail (17 species, 2 genera)

They place the Gruiformes in the Superorder Passerimorphae, following the doves. Excluding the levels between Order and Family, their classification is as follows:

   Order Gruiformes
      Family Eurypygidae - Sunbittern (1 species, 1 genus)
      Family Otidae - Bustards (25 species, 6 genera)
      Family Gruidae - Cranes (15 species, 2 genera)
      Family Heliornithidae - Limpkins and Sungrebes (Finfoots) (3 species, 3 genera)
      Family Psophiidae - Trumpeters (3 species, 1 genus)
      Family Cariamidae - Seriemas (2 species, 2 genera)
      Family Rhynochetidae - Kagu (1 species, 1 genus)
      Family Rallidae - Rails, Gallinules, Coots (142 species 24 genera)
      Family Mesitornithidae - Mesites (3 species, 2 genera)

   Sibley and Ahlquist (1990) place the Hoatzin (Family Opisthocomidae) as a sister group to the Anis, Guira Cuckoo, roadrunners and ground-cuckoos in the Order Cuculiformes where I will discuss this group. However, more recent study leaves the relationships of this family open. It has been placed with other problem taxa in the "Metaves" (a clade that includes flamingos, grebes, tropicbirds, sandgrouse, and mesites). There is some feeling that the closest living relatives of the Hoatzin are the doves.

   Dickinson (2003) and Harris (2009) do not place their families in orders. They list the following groups in order:

   Family Otidae - Bustards (26 species, 11 genera)
   Family Mesitornithidae - Mesites (3 species, 2 genera)
   Family Cariamidae - Seriemas (2 species, 2 genera)
   Family Rhynochetidae - Kagu (1 species, 1 genus)
   Family Eurypygidae - Sunbittern (1 species, 1 genus)
   Family Rallidae - Rails, Waterhens, Coots (141 species, 33 genera)
   Family Heliornithidae - Finfoots (3 species, 3 genera)
   Family Psophicae - Trumpeters (3 species, 1 genus)
   Family Gruidae - Cranes (15 species, 4 genera)
   Family Aramidae - Limpkin (1 species, 1 genera)
   Family Turnicidae - Buttonquails (16 species, 2 genera)

They place the Hoatzin (Family Opisthocomidae) between the Psittacidae (parrots) and Musophagidae (turacos).

   Based on the most recent evidence, the core grues include rails, finfoots and the sungrebe, adzebills (extinct), trumpeters, the limpkin, and cranes. The Kagu and sunbittern are not related. Mesites, button-quail and the Australian Plains-wanderer (actually a shorebird), seriemas, and bustards each represent  unrelated lineages. Button-quail are now believed to belong with the shorebirds. The assemblage probably represents 5-7 unrelated clades.
   Fain and Houde (2004) propose that Neoaves should be divided into two clades - the Metaves and Coronaves. In this scheme, the sunbittern, kagu and mesites group with the Metaves but other lineages group either with a group of waterbirds or landbirds in the Coronoaves. The seriamas and bustards represent distinct lineages.
 
   A suggested classification follows (but stay tuned):

Suborder Ralli
   Family Rallidae - Flufftails, Crakes, Moorhens, Gallinules, Rails
   Family Heliornithidae - Finfoots and Sungrebe
   Family Aptornithidae - Adzebill
(extinct)
Suborder Grui
   Family Gruidae - Cranes
   Family Aramidae - Limpkin
   Family Psophiidae - Trumpeters
Incertae sedis and doubtful families
(plus several other extinct groups) -
   Family Phorusrhacidae - Terror Birds
(extinct)
   Family Cariamidae - Seriemas [Neoavian landbirds - distinct order, Cariamae
      (with Terror Birds)]
   Family Otidae - Bustards [Neoavian waterbirds - distinct order]
   Family Eurypygidae - Sunbittern [Metaves - Eurypygiformes (with Kagu)]
   Family Rhynochetidae - Kagu [Metaves - Eurypygiformes (with Sunbittern)]
   Family Mesitornithidae - Mesites [Metaves - distinct order]

   Lacking a clear concensus on classification, the following discussion of families follows the order of Sibley and Monroe (1990) with a link to the Hoatzin.

 
 
Clapper Rail
Clapper Rail, Fallus lonhgirostris
Willet Pond © Kiawah Island Wildlife
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