Temporal range: Middle Miocene to present
Hieraaetus Kaup, 1844
Aquila is the genus of true eagles. The genus name is Latin for "eagle", possibly derived from aquilus, "dark in colour". It is often united with the buteos, sea eagles, and other more heavyset Accipitridae, but more recently it appears as if they are less distinct from the more slender accipitrine hawks than previously believed. Eagles are not a natural group, but denote essentially any bird of prey large enough to hunt sizeable (about 50 cm long or more overall) vertebrate prey.
Taxonomy and systematics
Aquila belongs to a close-knit group of "typical" eagles including genera Hieraaetus, Lophaetus, Ictinaetus, Clanga, and the extinct Harpagornis. This group occurs as a clade within the larger group of "booted" eagles (tribe Aquilini or subfamily Aquilinae).
The plumage of the more basal members of the booted-eagle group, such as Spizaetus and Nisaetus, generally has barred underparts in adults, and is distinctly different in juveniles which have plain, pale underparts. In contrast, within the Aquila–Hieraaetus–Lophaetus clade, adults are generally dark, with juveniles more closely resembling the adults. Hieraaetus species have both dark and light (or "pied") morphs, with the latter having light, unbarred under-parts.
Research in molecular genetics found Aquila and Hieraaetus to be polyphyletic. Between 2005 and 2014, the British Ornithologists' Union included both Bonelli's and the booted eagle in Aquila. Also, Clements' Checklist merged all Hieraetus species into Aquila from 2001 to 2009. The current approach is to keep Hieraaetus as a separate genus, with Bonelli's eagle and the African hawk-eagle moved into Aquila and Wahlberg's eagle moved into Hieraaetus.
The spotted eagles (previously Aquila clanga, A. pomarina, A. (p.) hastata) are thought to be genetically closer to Ictinaetus and Lophoaetus than to other Aquila species, and may be placed into a separate genus, Clanga.
As well as similarities in mitochondrial cyt-B gene sequence, members of Aquila (excluding those moved to Clanga and Hieraaetus, but including A. fasciata/spilogaster) share two deletions in the (nuclear) LDH gene, though one of these deletions is reverted in A. chrysaetos.
- Bonelli's eagle, Aquila fasciata (formerly Hieraaetus fasciatus)
- Cassin's hawk-eagle, Aquila africana (formerly Spizaetus africanus)
- African hawk-eagle, Aquila spilogaster (previously a subspecies, H. f. spilogaster)
- Golden eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
- Eastern imperial eagle, Aquila heliaca
- Spanish imperial eagle Aquila adalberti
- Steppe eagle, Aquila nipalensis
- Tawny eagle, Aquila rapax
- Verreaux's eagle, Aquila verreauxii
- Gurney's eagle, Aquila gurneyi
- Wedge-tailed eagle, Aquila audax
- Tasmanian wedge-tailed eagle, Aquila audax fleayi
- Greater spotted eagle, Clanga clanga
- Lesser spotted eagle, Clanga pomerina
- Indian spotted eagle, Clanga hastata
- Wahlberg's eagle, Hieraaetus wahlbergii
- Aquila bullockensis (Middle Miocene)
- ?Aquila delphinensis (Middle/Late Miocene of Grive-Saint-Alban, France)
- ?Aquila pennatoides (Middle/Late Miocene of Grive-Saint-Alban, France)
- Aquila sp. (Late Miocene – Late Pliocene of S Europe)
- Aquila sp. (Early Pliocene of Florida)
- Aquila bivia (Late Pliocene of S USA)
- Aquila kurochkini (Late Pliocene of Varshets, Bulgaria)
- Aquila sp. (Middle Pleistocene of Castiglione, Corsica)
- ?Aquila fossilis (Middle/Late Pleistocene of Monte Reale, Sardinia)
- ?Aquila sp. (Late Quaternary, Madagascar)
It is not clear whether "Hieraaetus" edwardsi (Middle -? Late Miocene of SW Europe) belongs into Aquila or the hawk-eagles (if the latter are indeed distinct). Its initial name, "Aquila" minuta Milne-Edwards, 1871, is preoccupied by a junior synonym of the booted eagle, Aquila minuta Brehm, 1831.
Not placed in Aquila anymore are:
- "Aquila" gervaisii – now in Palaeohierax
- "Aquila" borrasi, "A." sodalis – now in Buteogallus. B. borrasi was long placed in Titanohierax.
- "Aquila" pliogryps – now in Spizaetus
- "Aquila" corroyi, "A." depredator, "A." hypogaea and "A." prisca – now in Aquilavus
- "Aquila" ferox, "A." lydekkeri – protostrigid owls, now in Minerva.
For paleosubspecies of living Aquila, see the species accounts.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aquila.|
- Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
- Boyd, John Accipitriformes", Taxonomy in Flux Checklist.
- Helbig, A.J., Kocum, A., Seibold, I. & Braun, M.J. "A multi-gene phylogeny of aquiline eagles (Aves: Accipitriformes) reveals extensive paraphyly at the genus level" (PDF). Science Direct, Journal of Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
- See article Hieraaetus for details.
- Brodkorb, Pierce (1964). "Catalogue of Fossil Birds: Part 2 (Anseriformes through Galliformes)". Bulletin of the Florida State Museum. 8 (3): 195–335.
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