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Temporal range: Early Paleocene–Holocene 62–0 Ma[1] Possibly an earlier origin based on molecular clock[2]
Thalassarche cauta - SE Tasmania.jpg
Shy albatross (Thalassarche cauta)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Phaethoquornithes
Clade: Aequornithes
Mayr, 2010[3][4]

Aequornithes (/kwɔːrˈnɪθz/, from Latin aequor, expanse of water + Greek ornithes, birds), or core water birds,[6] are defined as "the least inclusive clade containing Gaviidae and Phalacrocoracidae".[3]

The monophyly of the group is currently supported by several molecular phylogenetic studies.[7][8][9][10]

Aequornithes includes the clades Gaviiformes, Sphenisciformes, Procellariiformes, Ciconiiformes, Suliformes and Pelecaniformes. It does not include several unrelated groups of aquatic birds such as flamingos and grebes (Mirandornithes), shorebirds and auks (Charadriiformes), or the Anseriformes.

Based on a whole-genome analysis of the bird orders, the kagu and sunbittern (Eurypygiformes) and the three species of tropicbirds (Phaethontiformes) together styled as the Eurypygimorphae are the closest sister group of the Aequornithes,[6] in a clade later named Phaethoquornithes.[11]


Gaviiformes (loons)


Procellariiformes (albatross and petrels)

Sphenisciformes (penguins) Chinstrap Penguin white background.jpg


Ciconiiformes (storks) Weißstorch (Ciconia ciconia) white background.jpg

Suliformes (boobies, cormorants, etc.)

Pelecaniformes (herons, ibises, pelicans, shoebill and hamerkop) Spot-billed pelican takeoff white background.jpg

Cladogram based on Burleigh, J.G. et al. (2015)[12] with some names after Sangster, G. & Mayr, G. (2021).[5]


  1. ^ Slack, Kerryn E.; Jones, Craig M.; Ando, Tatsuro; Harrison, G.L. "Abby"; Fordyce, R. Ewan; Arnason, Ulfur; Penny, David (2006). "Early Penguin Fossils, plus Mitochondrial Genomes, Calibrate Avian Evolution". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 23 (#6): 1144–1155. CiteSeerX doi:10.1093/molbev/msj124. PMID 16533822. Supplementary Material Archived December 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Kuhl., H.; Frankl-Vilches, C.; Bakker, A.; Mayr, G.; Nikolaus, G.; Boerno, S. T.; Klages, S.; Timmermann, B.; Gahr, M. (2020). "An unbiased molecular approach using 3'-UTRs resolves the avian family-level tree of life". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 38: 108–127. doi:10.1093/molbev/msaa191. PMC 7783168. PMID 32781465.
  3. ^ a b Mayr, Gerald (2011). "Metaves, Mirandornithes, Strisores and other novelties – a critical review of the higher-level phylogeny of neornithine birds". Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research. 49 (1): 58–76. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0469.2010.00586.x.
  4. ^ Sangster, G.; Braun, E.L.; Johansson, U.S.; Kimball, R.T.; Mayr, G.; Suh, A. (2022). "Phylogenetic definitions for 25 higher-level clade names of birds". Avian Research. 13: 100027. doi:10.1016/j.avrs.2022.100027.
  5. ^ a b Sangster, G.; Mayr, G. (2021). "Feraequornithes: a name for the clade formed by Procellariiformes, Sphenisciformes, Ciconiiformes, Suliformes and Pelecaniformes (Aves)". Vertebrate Zoology. 71: 49–53. doi:10.3897/vertebrate-zoology.71.e61728.
  6. ^ a b Jarvis, E.D.; et al. (12 December 2014). "Whole-genome analyses resolve early branches in the tree of life of modern birds". Science. 346 (6215): 1320–1331. Bibcode:2014Sci...346.1320J. doi:10.1126/science.1253451. PMC 4405904. PMID 25504713.
  7. ^ Hackett, S.J.; et al. (27 June 2008). "A phylogenomic study of birds reveals their evolutionary history". Science. 320 (5884): 1763–1768. Bibcode:2008Sci...320.1763H. doi:10.1126/science.1157704. PMID 18583609. S2CID 6472805.
  8. ^ Yuri, T.; et al. (2013). "Parsimony and model-based analyses of indels in avian nuclear genes reveal congruent and incongruent phylogenetic signals". Biology. 2 (1): 419–444. doi:10.3390/biology2010419. PMC 4009869. PMID 24832669.
  9. ^ Kimball, R.T.; et al. (December 2013). "Identifying localized biases in large datasets: A case study using the Avian Tree of Life". Mol Phylogenet Evol. 69 (3): 1021–32. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2013.05.029. PMID 23791948.
  10. ^ Kuramoto, T.; et al. (2015). "Determining the Position of Storks on the Phylogenetic Tree of Waterbirds by Retroposon Insertion Analysis". Genome Biology and Evolution. 7 (12): 3180–3189. doi:10.1093/gbe/evv213. PMC 4700946. PMID 26527652.
  11. ^ Sangster, George; Braun, Edward L.; Johansson, Ulf S.; Kimball, Rebecca T.; Mayr, Gerald; Suh, Alexander (2022). "Phylogenetic definitions for 25 higher-level clade names of birds". Avian Research. 13: 100027. doi:10.1016/j.avrs.2022.100027. S2CID 247988800.
  12. ^ Burleigh, J.G.; et al. (March 2015). "Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 84: 53–63. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2014.12.003. PMID 25550149.