Temporal range: Paleocene-Eocene
Sophiornis, Strigogyps, Necrobyas
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: ?Strigiformes
Family: Sophiornithidae
  • Sophiornis

and see text

The Sophiornithidae (literally "wisdom birds") are an extinct family of chicken-sized predatory birds that lived from the Paleocene to the Eocene periods of the Cenozoic, and were found primarily in Europe, and are thought to be primitive owls.

The French genera Berruornis (Late Paleocene to Late Eocene/Early Oligocene), as well as Palaeotyto and Palaeobyas from Quercy, are sometimes placed in this family. The latter might instead be barn-owls, while the first might be a very basal owl but not an actual sophiornithid. Strigogyps was placed here for a time, but it has been revised several times since then[1][2][3] Peters 2007) and appears to be an ameghinornitid; these were distant relatives of the Seriemas.


  1. Alvarenga, Herculano M. F. & Höfling, Elizabeth (2003): Systematic revision of the Phorusrhacidae (Aves: Ralliformes). Papéis Avulsos de Zoologia 43(4): 55-91 PDF fulltext
  2. Mayr, Gerald (2005): "Old World phorusrhacids" (Aves, Phorusrhacidae): a new look at Strigogyps ("Aenigmavis") sapea (Peters 1987). PaleoBios (Berkeley) 25(1): 11-16 HTML abstract
  3. Peters, Dieter Stefan (2007): The fossil family Ameghinornithidae (Mourer-Chauviré 1981): a short synopsis. Journal of Ornithology 148(1): 25-28. doi:10.1007/s10336-006-0095-z

Further reading

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