This order comprises the following families: 

  • Heliornithidae (Sungrebe, Finfoots)
  • Sarothruridae (Flufftails, Wood Rails)
  • Rallidae (Rail)
  • Gruidae (Cranes)
  • Aramidae (Limpkin)
  • Psophiidae (Trumpeters)

Genus-level timetree of extant Gruiformes according to Prum et al. (2015), Boast et al. (2019), Kuhl et al. (2021), and Kirchman et al. (2021), with the distribution of each taxon being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code).  Note, however, that Prum et al. (2015) and Kuhl et al. (2021) didn't treat any species of Sarothruridae. 


Genus-level timetree of extant Rallidae according to Boast et al (2019), Garcia-R. et al. (2020), Garcia-R. & Matzke (2021), and Kirchman et al. (2021), with the distribution of each taxon being indicated by the colour-code used throughout this website (see Distribution code). 


Kirchman et al. (2021) provided a revised classification of the superfamily Ralloidea which is represented below. It should be noted, however, that the number of rallid tribes may be somewhat exaggerated, some of them being less than 10 Ma. 


Akiyama T, Nishida C, Momose K, Onuma M, Takami K, and Masuda R (2017), Gene duplication and concerted evolution of mitochondrial DNA in crane  species, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 106, 158-163. (abstract)


Boast AP, Chapman B, Herrera MB, Worthy TH, Scofield RP, Tennyson AJD, Houde P, Bunce M, Cooper A, and Mitchell KJ (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). (pdf)


Chen P, Huang Z, Zhu C, Han Y, Xu Z, Sun G, Zhang Z, Zhao D, Ge G, and Ruan L (2020), Complete mitochondrial genome and phylogenetic analysis of Gruiformes and Charadriiformes, Pakistan J. Zool. 52, 425-439. (pdf)


Garcia-R. JC, Gibb GC, and Trewick SA (2014), Deep global evolutionary radiation in birds: diversification and trait evolution in the cosmopolitan bird family Rallidae, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 81, 96-108. (abstract)


Garcia-R. JC, and Trewick SA (2015), Dispersal and speciation in purple swamphens (Rallidae: Porphyrio), Auk 132, 140-155. (pdf)


Garcia-R. JC, Lemmon EM, Lemmon AR, and French N (2020), Phylogenomic reconstruction sheds light on new relationships and timescale of rails (Aves: Rallidae) phylogeny, Diversity 12, 70. (pdf)


Garcia-R. JC, and Matzke NJ (2021), Trait-dependent dispersal in rails (Aves: Rallidae): historical biogeography of a cosmopolitan bird clade, Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 107106.  (abstract)


Kirchman JJ (2012), Speciation of flightless rails on islands: a DNA-based phylogeny of the typical rails of the Pacific, Auk 129, 56-69. (pdf)


Kirchman JJ, Rotzel McInerney N, Giarla TC, Olson SL, Slikas E, and Fleischer RC (2021), Phylogeny based on ultra-conserved elements clarifies the evolution of rails and allies (Ralloidea) and is the basis for a revised classification, Ornithology, 2021, ukab041. (abstract)


Krajewski C, Sipiorski JT, and Anderson FE (2010), Complete mitochondrial genome sequences and the phylogeny of cranes (Gruiformes: Gruidae), Auk 127, 440-452. (pdf)


Kuhl H, Frankl-Vilches C, Bakker A, Mayr G, Nikolaus G, Boerno ST, Klages S, Timmermann B, and Gahr M (2021), An unbiased molecular approach using 3'UTRs resolves the avian family-level tree of life, Mol. Biol. Evol. 38, 108-127. (pdf)


Lian T, Yang C, Yuan H, Wang QX, Du XJ, and Li XJ (2021), Characterization of the complete mitogenomes of Baillon‘s Crake Porzana pusilla and phylogenetic analysis, Mitochondrial DNA Part B 6:2. (pdf)


Mayr G (2019), Hypotarsus morphology of the Ralloidea supports a clade comprising Sarothrura and Mentocrex to the exclusion of Canirallus, Acta Ornithol. 54, 51-58. (abstract)


Musser GM, and Cracraft J (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. (abstract)


Musser G, Ksepka DT, and Field DJ (2019), New material of Paleocene-Eocene Pellornis (Aves: Gruiformes) clarifies the pattern and timing of the extant gruiform radiation, Diversity 11, 102. (pdf)


Oswald JA, Terrill RS, Stucky BJ, LeFebvre MJ, Steadman DW, Guralnick RP, and Allen JM (2021), Ancient DNA from the extinct Haitan cave-rail (Nesotrochis staganinos) suggests a biogeographic connection between the Caribbean and Old World, Biol. Lett. 17. (pdf)


Prum RO, Berv JS, Dornburg A, Field DJ, Townsend JP, Lemmon EM, and Lemmon AR (2015), A comprehensive phylogeny of birds (Aves) using targeted next-generation DNA sequencing, Nature 526, 569-57. (abstract)


Sangster G, Garcia-R. JC, and Trewick SA (2015), A new genus for the Lesser Moorhen Gallinula angulata Sundevall, 1850 (Aves, Rallidae), Eur. J. Taxon. 153, 1-8. (pdf)


Stervander M, Ryan PG, Melo M, and Hansson B (2019), The origin of the world´s smallest flightless bird, the Inaccessible Island Rail Atlantisia rogersi (Aves: Rallidae), Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. 130, 92-98. (abstract)


Wang T, Wang H, Zhao Z, Wang Z, Mu L, and Yu H (2018), Complete mitochondrial genome of the Siberian Crane Grus leucogeranus, Mitochondrial DNA Part B 3, 575-576. (pdf)


Yang R, Wu X, Yan P, Su X, and Yang B (2009) Complete mitochondrial genome of Otis tarda (Gruiformes: Otididae) and phylogeny of Gruiformes inferred from mitochondrial DNA sequences, Mol. Biol. Rep. 37, 3057- 3066. (pdf)