Helmeted guineafowl Numida meleagris, photographed by Bob Fabry.

Belongs within: Galliformes.
Contains: Odontophoridae, Phasianidae.

The Phasiani (named here in the sense of Livezey & Zusi 2007) include the phasianoid gamebirds: pheasants, quails, grouse, guineafowl and turkeys. Other authors have referred to this clade as the Phasianoidea or Phasianidae (in the latter case, with the constituent families all treated as subfamilies). Phasianoids are distinguished from other gamebirds (megapodes and cracids) by having the hallux raised relative to the other toes.

The classification presented below recognises the Numididae (guineafowls) and Odontophoridae (New World quails) as distinct from the Phasianidae. The guineafowls of the Numididae are found in sub-Saharan Africa. They have a bare head and neck, smooth dark feathers spangled with white, and a short tail that is almost hidden by the tail coverts (Austin 1961). Also found in Africa are the stone partridge Ptilopachus petrosus and Nahan's francolin 'Francolinus' nahani, both previously regarded as phasianids sensu stricto but now recognised as more closely related to the New World Odontophoridae.

Synapomorphies (from Dyke et al. 2003): Caudal end of palatines indented in ventral view; little (or no) pneumaticity of sternal plate; processus craniolateralis angled at 45° with respect to carina sternum; transverse processes of sacral vertebrae short, not reaching level of ilium; hallux raised.

Phasiani [Pavonidae, Phasianoidea] LZ07
    |  i. s.: Euplocamus lineatus B66
    |--+--+--Odontophoridae HK08
    |  |  `--+--‘Francolinus’ nahani BKB15
    |  |     `--Ptilopachus Swainson 1837 BKB15, B94 [Ptilopachini]
    |  |          `--P. petrosus JT12
    |  `--Phasianidae HK08
    `--Numididae [Numidinae] JT12
         |--Numida Linnaeus 1766 BKB15, CC10 (see below for synonymy)
         |    |--*N. meleagris (Linnaeus 1758) [=Phasianus meleagris; incl. N. ptilorhyncha Lesson 1831] CC10
         |    |    |--N. m. meleagris B94
         |    |    |--N. m. galeata L81
         |    |    `--N. m. mitrata B94
         |    `--N. tiarata S66
         `--+--+--Acryllium vulturinum BKB15
            |  `--Agelastes Bonaparte 1849 BKB15, B94 [Agelastinae]
            |       |--A. meleagrides JT12
            |       `--A. niger JT12
            `--Guttera BKB15
                 |--G. plumifea JT12
                 `--G. pucherani ZJM03

Numida Linnaeus 1766 BKB15, CC10 [incl. Meleagris Chenu & des Murs 1854 nec Linnaeus 1758 nec Montfort 1810 B94]

*Type species of generic name indicated


Austin, O. L., Jr. 1961. Birds of the World: A survey of the twenty-seven orders and one hundred and fifty-five families. Paul Hamlyn: London.

[B66] Bartlett, A. D. 1866. Notes on the breeding of several species of birds in the Society's gardens during the year 1865. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 76–79.

[B94] Bock, W. J. 1994. History and nomenclature of avian family-group names. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 222: 1–281.

[BKB15] Burleigh, J. G., R. T. Kimball & E. L. Braun. 2015. Building the avian tree of life using a large-scale, sparse supermatrix. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 84: 53–63.

[CC10] Checklist Committee (OSNZ). 2010. Checklist of the Birds of New Zealand, Norfolk and Macquarie Islands, and the Ross Dependency, Antarctica 4th ed. Ornithological Society of New Zealand and Te Papa Press: Wellington.

Dyke, G. J., B. E. Gulas & T. M. Crowe. 2003. Suprageneric relationships of galliform birds (Aves, Galliformes): a cladistic analysis of morphological characters. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 137 (2): 227–244.

[HK08] Hackett, S. J., R. T. Kimball, S. Reddy, R. C. K. Bowie, E. L. Braun, M. J. Braun, J. L. Chojnowski, W. A. Cox, K.-L. Han, J. Harshman, C. J. Huddleston, B. D. Marks, K. J. Miglia, W. S. Moore, F. H. Sheldon, D. W. Steadman, C. C. Witt & T. Yuri. 2008. A phylogenomic study of birds reveals their evolutionary history. Science 320: 1763–1768.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444–448.

[LZ07] Livezey, B. C., & R. L. Zusi. 2007. Higher-order phylogeny of modern birds (Theropoda, Aves: Neornithes) based on comparative anatomy. II. Analysis and discussion. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 149 (1): 1–95.

[L81] Long, J. L. 1981. Introduced Birds of the World: The worldwide history, distribution and influence of birds introduced to new environments. Reed: Sydney.

[S66] Schlegel, H. 1866. Communication from, on mammals and birds collected in Madagascar. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 1866: 419–426.

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