Piciformes

Piciformes

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Nine families
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of largely arboreal bird
Bird
Birds are feathered, winged, bipedal, endothermic , egg-laying, vertebrate animals. Around 10,000 living species and 188 families makes them the most speciose class of tetrapod vertebrates. They inhabit ecosystems across the globe, from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Extant birds range in size from...

s make up the order
Order (biology)
In scientific classification used in biology, the order is# a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, family, genus, and species, with order fitting in between class and family...

 Piciformes, the best-known of them being the Picidae, which includes the woodpecker
Woodpecker
Woodpeckers are near passerine birds of the order Piciformes. They are one subfamily in the family Picidae, which also includes the piculets and wrynecks. They are found worldwide and include about 180 species....

s and close relatives. The Piciformes contain about 67 living genera
Genera
Genera is a commercial operating system and development environment for Lisp machines developed by Symbolics. It is essentially a fork of an earlier operating system originating on the MIT AI Lab's Lisp machines which Symbolics had used in common with LMI and Texas Instruments...

 with a little over 400 species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

, of which the Picidae
Picidae
The woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks are a family, Picidae, of near-passerine birds. Members of this family are found worldwide, except for Australia and New Zealand, Madagascar, and the extreme polar regions...

 (woodpecker
Woodpecker
Woodpeckers are near passerine birds of the order Piciformes. They are one subfamily in the family Picidae, which also includes the piculets and wrynecks. They are found worldwide and include about 180 species....

s and relatives) make up about half.

In general, the Piciformes are insectivorous, although the barbet
Barbet
American barbets, family Capitonidae, are near passerine birds of the order Piciformes which inhabit humid forests in Central and South America. They are closely related to the toucans....

s and toucan
Toucan
Toucans are members of the family Ramphastidae of near passerine birds from the Neotropics. The family is most closely related to the American barbets. They are brightly marked and have large, often colorful bills. The family includes five genera and about forty different species...

s mostly eat fruit and the honeyguide
Honeyguide
Honeyguides are near passerine bird species of the order Piciformes. They are also known as indicator birds, or honey birds, although the latter term is also used more narrowly to refer to species of the genus Prodotiscus. They have an Old World tropical distribution, with the greatest number of...

s are unique among birds in being able to digest beeswax
Beeswax
Beeswax is a natural wax produced in the bee hive of honey bees of the genus Apis. It is mainly esters of fatty acids and various long chain alcohols...

 (although insects make up the bulk of their diet). Nearly all Piciformes have parrot-like
Parrot
Parrots, also known as psittacines , are birds of the roughly 372 species in 86 genera that make up the order Psittaciformes, found in most tropical and subtropical regions. The order is subdivided into three families: the Psittacidae , the Cacatuidae and the Strigopidae...

 zygodactyl feet—two toes forward and two back, an arrangement that has obvious advantages for birds that spend much of their time on tree trunks. An exception are a few species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of three-toed woodpeckers. The jacamar
Jacamar
The jacamars are a family, Galbulidae, of near passerine birds from tropical South and Central America, extending up to Mexico. The order contains five genera and 18 species...

s aside, Piciformes do not have down feather
Down feather
The down of birds is a layer of fine feathers found under the tougher exterior feathers. Very young birds are clad only in down. Powder down is a specialized type of down found only in a few groups of birds. Down is a fine thermal insulator and padding, used in goods such as jackets, bedding,...

s at any age, only true feathers. They range in size from the Rufous Piculet
Rufous Piculet
The Rufous Piculet is a species of bird in the Picidae family.It is found in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand....

 at 8 centimetres in length, and weighing 7 grams, to the Toco Toucan
Toco Toucan
The Toco Toucan is the largest and probably the best known species in the toucan family. It is found in semi-open habitats throughout a large part of central and eastern South America...

, at 63 centimetres long, and weighing 680 grams. All nest in cavities and have altricial
Altricial
Altricial, meaning "requiring nourishment", refers to a pattern of growth and development in organisms which are incapable of moving around on their own soon after hatching or being born...

 young.

Systematics and evolution



The Galbulidae and Bucconidae are often separated into a distinct Galbuliformes order. Analysis of nuclear gene
Nuclear gene
A Nuclear gene is a gene located in the cell nucleus of a eukaryote. The term is used to distinguish nuclear genes from the genes in the mitochondrion, and in case of plants, also the chloroplast, which host their own genetic system and can produce proteins from scratch...

s confirms that they form a lineage of their own, but suggests that they are better treated as a suborder. The other families form another monophyletic group of suborder rank, but the barbets were determined to be paraphyletic with regard to the toucans and hence, the formerly all-encompassing Capitonidae have been split up. The woodpeckers and honeyguides are each other's closest relatives.

Reconstruction of the evolutionary history of the Piciformes has been hampered by poor understanding of the evolution of the zygodactyl foot. A number of prehistoric families and genera, from the Early Eocene
Eocene
The Eocene Epoch, lasting from about 56 to 34 million years ago , is a major division of the geologic timescale and the second epoch of the Paleogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Eocene spans the time from the end of the Palaeocene Epoch to the beginning of the Oligocene Epoch. The start of the...

 Neanis
Neanis
Neanis is an extinct genus of bird probably related to woodpeckers and toucans. It contains at least one species, N. schucherti; N. kistneri resembles this, but it probably belongs to a distinct genus and may not be closely related. Both are known from the Late Wasatchian stratum of the Early...

and Hassiavis, the Zygodactylidae, Primoscenidae and "Homalopus", to the Miocene
Miocene
The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene Period and extends from about . The Miocene was named by Sir Charles Lyell. Its name comes from the Greek words and and means "less recent" because it has 18% fewer modern sea invertebrates than the Pliocene. The Miocene follows the Oligocene...

 "Picus" gaudryi and the Pliocene
Pliocene
The Pliocene Epoch is the period in the geologic timescale that extends from 5.332 million to 2.588 million years before present. It is the second and youngest epoch of the Neogene Period in the Cenozoic Era. The Pliocene follows the Miocene Epoch and is followed by the Pleistocene Epoch...

 Bathoceleus are sometimes tentatively assigned to this order. There are some extinct ancestral Piciformes known from fossil
Fossil
Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

s which have been difficult to place but at least in part probably belong to the Pici. The modern families are known to exist since the mid-late Oligocene
Oligocene
The Oligocene is a geologic epoch of the Paleogene Period and extends from about 34 million to 23 million years before the present . As with other older geologic periods, the rock beds that define the period are well identified but the exact dates of the start and end of the period are slightly...

 to early Miocene; consequently, the older forms appear to be more basal. A large part of Piciform evolution seems to have occurred in Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 where only Picidae occur today; perhaps even some now exclusively Neotropical families have their origin in the Old World
Old World
The Old World consists of those parts of the world known to classical antiquity and the European Middle Ages. It is used in the context of, and contrast with, the "New World" ....

.

Families


Order: PICIFORMES
  • Unassigned (all fossil
    Fossil
    Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

    )
    • Piciformes gen. et sp. indet. IRScNB Av 65 (Early Oligocene of Boutersem, Belgium)
    • Piciformes gen. et sp. indet. SMF Av 429 (Late Oligocene of Herrlingen, Germany)
  • Suborder Galbulae
    • Family: Galbulidae - jacamars (18 species)
    • Family: Bucconidae - puffbirds, nunbirds and nunlets (some 30 species)
  • Suborder Pici
    • Unresolved and basal taxa (all fossil
      Fossil
      Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

      )
      • Genus: Rupelramphastoides
        Rupelramphastoides
        Rupelramphastoides is an extinxt genus of piciform from the Lower Oligocene of Central Europe . Only one species are recorded for genus, Rupelramphastoides knopfi, and it is classified "family incertae sedis", pending discovery of additional specimens....

        (Early Oligocene of Frauenweiler, Germany)
      • Genus: Capitonides
        Capitonides
        Capitonides is an extinct genus of piciform from the Middle Miocene of southern Germany. Only one species are recorded for genus, Capitonites europaeus.. Carroll assigned the genus to family Capitonidae....

        (Early - Middle Miocene of Europe)
      • Pici gen. et sp. indet. (Middle Miocene of Give-Saint-Alban, France)
    • Family: Lybiidae
      Lybiidae
      The Lybiidae is a bird family containing the African barbets. They were usually united with their American and Asian relatives in the Capitonidae for quite some time, but this has been confirmed to be limited to the main American lineage. There are 42 species ranging from the type genus Lybius of...

       - African barbets (about 40 species, recently split form Capitonidae)
    • Family: Megalaimidae
      Megalaimidae
      A family of birds comprising the Asian barbets, the Megalaimidae were once united with all other barbets in the Capitonidae but they have turned out to be distinct...

       - Asian barbets (about 25 species, recently split form Capitonidae)
    • Family: Ramphastidae - toucans (about 40 species)
    • Family: Semnornithidae - toucan-barbets (2 species, recently split form Capitonidae)
    • Family: Capitonidae - American barbets (about 15 species)
    • Family: Miopiconidae (fossil
      Fossil
      Fossils are the preserved remains or traces of animals , plants, and other organisms from the remote past...

      )
    • Family: Picidae
      Picidae
      The woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks are a family, Picidae, of near-passerine birds. Members of this family are found worldwide, except for Australia and New Zealand, Madagascar, and the extreme polar regions...

       - woodpeckers, piculets and wrynecks (over 200 species)
    • Family: Indicatoridae - honeyguides (17 species)

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