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Temporal range:
Late Cretaceous - Holocene, 66–0Ma
Cariama cristata.jpg
Red-legged Seriema, Cariama cristata
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Australaves
Order: Cariamae
Fürbringer, 1888


Cariamae (or Cariamiformes) is an order of primarily flightless birds that have existed for over 60 million years. The group includes the family Cariamidae (seriemas) and the extinct families Phorusrhacidae, Bathornithidae, Idiornithidae and Ameghinornithidae. Though traditionally considered as a suborder of the Gruiformes, based on both morphological and genetic studies[2] they may belong to a separate group of birds whose other living members would be the Falconidae, the Psittaciformes and the Passeriformes.[3]

The earliest known fossil belonging to this group is an isolated femur from the Cape Lamb Member of the Lopez de Bertodano Formation, Vega Island, Antarctica. This specimen, which dates to the late Cretaceous period 66 million years ago, is indistinguishable from the femurs of modern seriemas, and belonged to a large bird about 1 metre (3.3 ft) tall. Because of its age and geographic location, this unnamed species may have been close to the ancestry of both cariamids and phorusrhacids.[4]


  1. ^ Mayr, G. 2005. "Old World phorusrhacids" (Aves, Phorusrhacidae): a new look at Strigogyps ("Aenigmavis") sapea (Peters 1987). PaleoBios
  2. ^ Hackett, Shannon J.; et al. (2008-06-27). "A Phylogenomic Study of Birds Reveals Their Evolutionary History". Science 320 (5884): 1763–1768. doi:10.1126/science.1157704. PMID 18583609. Retrieved 2008-10-18. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Case, J.; Reguero, M.; Martin, J.; Cordes-Person, A. (2006). "A cursorial bird from the Maastrictian of Antarctica". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Supplement to 26 (3): 48A.