The order Galliformes comprises five families:

  • Megapodiidae (megapodes)
  • Cracidae (chachalacas, guans, curassows)
  • Numididae (guineafowl)
  • Odontophoridae (New World quails)
  • Phasianidae (turkeys, grouse, pheasants, partridges)


Timetree of Galliformes based on Hosner et al. (2015) and Stein et al. (2015), with the distribution of each family being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution colour code).


Timetree of Phasianidae based on Hosner et al. (2015) and Stein et al. (2015), with the distribution of genera being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution colour code).


Based on the presence of putative stem group Eocene galliform and Oligocene cracid fossils in North America and Eocene and Oligocene fossil megapodes from Europe, Olson (1980) and Mayr and Weidig (2004) hypothesized that these galliform families have their biogeographical origins in the Northern Hemisphere and that stem galliforms originated only after the Cretaceous-Tertiary mass extinction event (citation from Crowe et al., 2006). See also Tomek et al., 2014 and Chen (2015). However, van der Merwe (2011) considered Galliformes to have originated in South America.



Chen, Y. (2015), On the historical biogeography of global Galliformes: ancestral range and diversification patterns, Avian Research 2014, 5 :3, DOI:

10.1186/s40657-014-0003-9. (pdf)

Chen, D., Y. Liu, G.W. H. Davison, L. Dong, J. Chang, S. Gao, S.-H. Li, and Z. Zhang (2015), Revival of the genus Tropicoperdix Blyth 1859 (Phasianidae,

Aves) using multilocus sequence data, Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 175, 429-438. (abstract)

Cox, W.A., R.T. Kimball, and E.L. Braun (2007), Phylogenetic position of the New World quail (Odontophoridae): eight nuclear loci and three mitochondrial

regions contradict morphology and the Sibley-Ahlquist tapestry, Auk 124, 71-84. (pdf)

Crowe, T.M., P. Bloomer, E. Randi, V. Lucchini, R. Kimball, E. Braun and J.G. Groth (2007), Supra-generic cladistics of landfowl (Order Galliformes), Acta

        Zool. Sinica 124, 71-84. (pdf)

del Hoyo, J., N.J. Collar, D.A. Christie, A. Elliott, and L.D.C. Fishpool (2014), Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World, volume I (Non-passerines),

published by Lynx Edicions in association with BirdLife. (link)

Hosner, P.A., B.C. Faircloth, Glenn, T.C., Braun, E.L., and R.T. Kimball (2015), Avoiding missing data biases in phylogenomic inference: an empirical study

in the landfowl (Aves: Galliformes), Mol. Biol. Evol. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msv347. (abstract)

Hosner, P.A., Braun, E.L., and R.T. Kimball (2016), Rapid and recent diversification of curassows, guans, and chachalacas (Galliformes: Cracidae) out of

Mesoamerica: Phylogeny inferred from mitochondrial, intron, and ultraconserved element sequences, Mol. Phyl. Evol. 112, 320-330.  doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2016.06.006  (abstract)

Kaiser, V.B., M. van Tuinen, and H. Ellegren (2007), Insertion Events of CR1 Retrotransposable Elements Elucidate the Phylogenetic Branching Order in

Galliform Birds, Mol. Biol. Evol. 24, 338-347. (pdf)

Kimball, R.T. and E.L. Braun (2014), Does more sequence data improve estimates of galliform phylogeny? Analyses of a rapid radiation using a complete

data matrix. PeerJ 2:e361. (pdf)

Kriegs, J.O., A. Matzke, G. Churakov, A. Kuritzin, G. Mayr, J. Brosius, and J. Schmitz (2007), Waves of genomic hitchhikers shed light on the evolution of

gamebirds (Aves: Galliformes), BMC Evol. Biol. 7:190. (pdf)

Meiklejohn, K.A., M.J. Danielson, B.C. Faircloth, T.C. Glenn, E.L. Braun and R.T. Kimball (2014), Incongruence among different mitochondrial regions: A

case study using complete mitogenomes. Mol. Phyl. Evol. 78: 314-.323. (pdf)

Pereira, S.L., A.J. Baker, and A. Wajntal (2009), Did increased taxon and character sampling really reveal novel intergeneric relationships in the Cracidae

(Aves: Galliformes)?, J. Zool. Syst. Evol. Res. 47, 103-104. (pdf)

Persons, N.W., P.A. Hosner, K.A. Meiklejohn, E.L. Braun, and R.T. Kimball (2016), Sorting out relationships among the grouse and ptarmigan using intron,

mitochondrial, and ultra-conserved element sequences, Mol. Phyl. Evol. 98, 123-132. (abstract)

Prum, R.O., J.S. Berv, A. Dornburg, D.J. Field, J.P. Townsend, E.M. Lemmon and A.R. Lemmon (2015), A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using

targeted next-generation DNA sequencing, Nature 526, 569-57. (abstract)

Stein, R.W., J.W. Brown, and G. Mayr (2015), A molecular genetic time scale demonstrates Cretaceous origins and multiple diversification rate shifts within

the order Galliformes (Aves), Mol. Phyl. Evol., 92, 155-164. (pdf)

Sun K, K.A.Meiklejohn,B.C. Faircloth,T.C. Glenn, E.L. Braun, and R.T. Kimball (2014), The evolution of peafowl and other taxa with ocelli (eyespots): a

phylogenomic approach, Proc. Roy. Soc. B 281, 20140823–20140823. (pdf)

Tomek, T. et al., (2014), A new genus and species of a galliform bird from the Oligocene of Poland. Palaeontologia Electronica 17 (3). (pdf)

van der Merwe, V.C. (2011), The historical biogeography of terrestrial gamebirds (Aves: Galliformes). Thesis, University of Cape Town. (pdf)

Wang, N., Kimball, R.T., Braun, E.L., Liang, B., and Zhang, Z. (2017), Ancestral range reconstruction of Galliformes: the effects of topology and taxon

sampling, J. Biogeogr., 44(1), 122-137. (pdf)

Wang, N., P.A. Hosner, B. Liang, E.L. Braun, Liang, B., and R.T. Kimball (2017), Historic relationships of three enigmatic phasianid genera (Aves:

Galliformes) inferred using phylogenomic and mitogenomic data, Mol. Phyl. Evol., 109, 217-223. (abstract)

Indian Peafowl or Blue Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)

Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), male, Phasianidae


Crested Partridge (Rollulus rouloul), male, Phasianidae (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)

Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris), immature (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)

 Indian Peafowl or Blue Peafowl (Pavo cristatus), (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)

Crested Guineafowl (Guttera pucherani), left, & Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum), right

Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum), (Foto: Mary Yalda)

Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum), (Foto: Mary Yalda)

Vulturine Guineafowl (Acryllium vulturinum), (Foto: MaryYalda)

 Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus), male, Phasianidae (Foto: Carolin Pfeiffer)