Gruimorphae: Gruiformes

This order comprises two superfamilies with three families each: 


- Heliornithidae

- Sarothruridae

- Rallidae



- Gruidae

- Aramidae

- Psophiidae



Dated phylogenies, in which branchlengths are proportional to time, are usually referred to as chronograms or less often timetrees. The dated genus-level phylogenetic relationships among extant Gruiformes are shown below (click to enlarge): 

Timetree of Gruiformes according to Prum et al. (2015), Boast et al. (2019) and Garcia-R. et al. (2020), with the distribution of each taxon being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution colour code). 


Akiyama, T., C. Nishida, K. Momose, M. Onuma, K. Takami and R. Masuda (2017), Gene duplication and concerted evolution of mitochondrial DNA in crane

species, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 106, 158-163. DOI: (abstract)

Boast, A.P., B. Chapman, M.B. Herrera, T.H. Worthy, R.P. Scofield, A.J.D. Tennyson, P. Houde, M. Bunce, A. Cooper and K.J. Mitchell (2019), Mitochondrial

genomes from New Zealand´s extinct adzebills (Aves: Aptornithidae: Aptornis) support a sister-taxon relationship with the Afro-Madagascan Sarothruridae, Diversity 11(24). DOI: (pdf)

Chen, P., Z. Huang, C. Zhu, Y. Han, Z. Xu, G. Sun, Z. Zhang, D. Zhao, G. Ge and L. Ruan (2020), Complete mitochondrial genome and phylogenetic analysis

of Gruiformes and Charadriiformes, Pakistan J. Zool. 52(2), 425-439. DOI: 10.17582/journal.pjz/20190603010623. (pdf)

Garcia-R., J.C., G.C. Gibb and S.A. Trewick (2014), Deep global evolutionary radiation in birds: Diversification and trait evolution in the cosmopolitan bird

family Rallidae, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 81, 96-108. DOI: (abstract)

Garcia-R., J.C. and S.A. Trewick (2015), Dispersal and speciation in purple swamphens (Rallidae: Porphyrio), Auk. 132, 140-155. DOI: 10.1642/AUK-14-

114.1. (pdf)

Garcia-R., J.C., E.M. Lemmon, A.R. Lemmon, and N. French (2020), Phylogenomic reconstruction sheds light on new relationships and timescale of rails

(Aves: Rallidae) phylogeny, Diversity. 12, 70. DOI: 10.3390/d12020070. (pdf)

Gill., F., and D. Donsker (2019), Flufftails, finfoots, rails, trumpeters, cranes, limpkin, World Bird List Version 9.2. (link)

Krajewski, C., J,T. Sipiorski and F.E. Anderson (2010), Complete mitochondrial genome sequences and the phylogeny of cranes (Gruiformes: Gruidae),

Auk 127, 440-452. (pdf)

Mayr, G. (2019), Hypotarsus morphology of the Ralloidea supports a clade comprising Sarothrura and Mentocrex to the exclusion of Canirallus, Acta

Ornithol. 54(1), 51-58. DOI: (abstract)

Musser, G.M. and J. Cracraft (2019), A new morphological dataset reveals a novel relationship for the adzebills of New Zealand (Aptornis) and provides a

foundation for total evidence neoavian phylogenetics, Am. Mus. Novit. 3927, 1-70. DOI: (abstract)

Musser, G., D.T. Ksepka and D.J. Field (2019), New material of Paleocene-Eocene Pellornis (Aves: Gruiformes) clarifies the pattern and timing of the

extant gruiform radiation, Diversity 11, 102. DOI: (pdf)

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)

Sangster, G., J.C. Garcia-R., and S.A. Trewick (2015), A new genus for the Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata Sundevall, 1850 (Aves, Rallidae), Eur. J.

Taxon. 153, 1-8. DOI: 10.5852/ejt.2015.153. (pdf)

Stervander, M., P.G. Ryan, M. Melo and B. Hansson (2019), The origin of the world´s smallest flightless bird, the Inaccessible Island Rail Atlantisia rogersi

(Aves: Rallidae), Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 130, 92-98. DOI: (abstract)

Wang, T., H. Wang, Z. Zhao, Z. Wang, L. Mu and H. Yu (2018), Complete mitochondrial genome of the Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus, Mitochondrial

DNA Part B 3:2, 575-576. DOI: 10.1080/23802359.2018.1467224. (pdf)

Yang, R., X. Wu, P. Yan, X. Su, and B. Yang (2009) Complete mitochondrial genome of Otis tarda (Gruiformes: Otididae) and phylogeny of Gruiformes

inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences, Mol. Biol. Rep. 37(7), 3057-3066. DOI: 10.1007/s11033-009-9878-7. (pdf)