Temporal range: Eocene-Recent, 47–0 Ma
Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Afroaves
Clade: Accipitrimorphae
Vieillot, 1816

Accipitrimorphae is a clade of birds of prey that include the orders Cathartiformes (New World vultures) and Accipitriformes (diurnal birds of prey such as eagles, hawks, osprey and secretarybird).[1][2][3][4] However this group might be a junior synonym (or at least a subjective one) of Accipitriformes. The DNA-based proposal and the NACC and IOC classifications include the New World vultures in the Accipitriformes,[5][6] but the SACC classifies the New World vultures as a separate order, the Cathartiformes[7] which has been adopted here. The placement of the New World vultures has been unclear since the early 1990s. The reason for this is the controversial systematic history of the New World vultures as they were assumed to be more related to (or a subfamily of) Ciconiidae (the storks) after Sibley and Ahlquist work on their DNA-DNA hybridization studies conducted in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.[8] The stork-vulture relationship has seem to not be supported.[1][4] Regardless of whether to use Accipitrimorphae or Accipitriformes, these birds belong to a basal branch of the clade Afroaves.[1][4]


Cathartiformes (New World vultures)


Sagittariidae (Secretarybird)

Pandionidae (Osprey)

Accipitridae (Hawks, eagles, kites, Old World vultures etc.)

Cladogram based on Jarvis et al. (2014).[4]


  1. 1 2 3 Hackett, S.J. et al. (2008) A Phylogenomic Study of Birds Reveals Their Evolutionary History. Science, 320, 1763.
  2. Yuri, T. (2013) Parsimony and model-based analyses of indels in avian nuclear genes reveal congruent and incongruent phylogenetic signals. Biology, 2:419–44.
  3. Kimball, R.T. et al. (2013) Identifying localized biases in large datasets: A case study using the Avian Tree of Life. Mol Phylogenet Evol. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.05.029
  4. 1 2 3 4 Jarvis, E.D. et al. (2014) Whole-genome analyses resolve early branches in the tree of life of modern birds. Science, 346(6215):1320-1331.
  5. Hackett et al. 2008.
  6. Chesser et al. 2010.
  7. Remsen, Cadena & Jaramillo Nores.
  8. Sibley, Charles Gald & Ahlquist, Jon Edward (1990): Phylogeny and classification of birds. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn.

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