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Wattled Curassow Crax globulosa Head 2600px.jpg
Head of female wattled curassow Crax globulosa
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Cracidae
Subfamily: Cracinae
Vigors, 1825

Curassows are one of the three major groups of cracid birds. [1] They comprise the largest-bodied species of the cracid family. Three of the four genera are restricted to tropical South America; a single species of Crax ranges north to Mexico. They form a distinct clade which is usually classified as the subfamily Cracinae. [1]

ImageGenusLiving Species
Nothocrax urumutum -head -zoo-8a.jpg Nothocrax
Mitu tuberosa Whaldener Endo.jpg Mitu
Pauxi pauxi -Denver Zoo, Colorado, USA -head-8a.jpg Pauxi – Helmeted curassows
Hocofaisan (8708251591).jpg Crax


In line with the other 3 main lineages of cracids (chachalacas, true guans, and the horned guan), mt and nDNA sequence data indicates that the curassows diverged from their closest living relatives (probably the guans) at some time during the Oligocene, or c.35–20 mya (Pereira et al. 2002). This data must be considered preliminary until corroborated by material (e.g. fossil) evidence however.

What appears certain from analysis of the molecular data, calibrated against geological events that would have induced speciation is that there are 2 major lineages of curassows: one containing only Crax, and another made up of Mitu and Pauxi. The position of the peculiar nocturnal curassow is not well resolved; it might be closer to the latter, but in any case, it diverged around the same time as the split between the two major lineages. All curassow genera appear to have diverged, in fact, during the Tortonian (early Late Miocene): the initial split took place some 10–9 mya, and Pauxi diverged from Mitu some 8–7.4 mya (but see genus article).(Pereira & Baker 2004)

Unlike the other cracids, biogeography and phylogeny indicate that the extant lineages of curassows probably originated in the lowlands of the western/northwestern Amazonas basin, most likely in the general area where the borders of Brazil, Peru and Colombia meet. In the two larger genera, vicariant speciation seems to have played a major role.(Pereira et al. 2002, Pereira & Baker 2004)

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Galliformes Order of heavy-bodied ground-feeding birds

Galliformes is an order of heavy-bodied ground-feeding birds that includes turkey, chicken, quail, and other landfowl. Gallinaceous birds, as they are called, are important as seed dispersers and predators in the ecosystems they inhabit, and are often reared by humans for their meat and eggs, or hunted as game birds.

Cracidae Family of birds

The chachalacas, guans and curassows are birds in the family Cracidae. These are species of tropical and subtropical Central and South America. The range of one species, the plain chachalaca, just reaches southernmost parts of Texas in the United States. Two species, the Trinidad piping guan and the rufous-vented chachalaca occur on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago respectively.

<i>Tringa</i> Genus of birds

Tringa is a genus of waders, containing the shanks and tattlers. The genus name Tringa is the New Latin name given to the green sandpiper by Aldrovandus in 1599 based on Ancient Greek trungas, a thrush-sized, white-rumped, tail-bobbing wading bird mentioned by Aristotle.

Trinidad piping guan Species of bird

The Trinidad piping guan locally known as the pawi, is a bird in the chachalaca, guan and curassow family Cracidae, endemic to the island of Trinidad. It is a large bird, somewhat resembling a turkey in appearance, and research has shown that its nearest living relative is the blue-throated piping guan from South America. It is a mainly arboreal species feeding mostly on fruit, but also on flowers and leaves. At one time abundant, it has declined in numbers and been extirpated from much of its natural range and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated the bird as "critically endangered".

<i>Crax</i> Genus of birds

Crax is a genus of curassows in the order Galliformes, a clade of large, heavy-bodied, ground-feeding birds. They are known from tropical South America with one species, the great curassow, ranging northwards through Central America as far as Mexico. The curassows in this genus are noted for their sexual dimorphism; males are more boldly coloured than females and have facial ornamentation such as knobs and wattles. They are also characterised by curly crests and contrastingly-coloured crissums. Crax curassows probably originated as a distinct lineage during the Late Miocene. During the Messinian, the ancestral Crax split into two lineages separated by the Colombian Andes and the Cordillera de Mérida which uplifted at that time. The northern lineage radiated into the great, blue-billed, and yellow-knobbed curassows, while the four southern species evolved as they became separated by the uplifting of various mountain ranges.

Piping guan Genus of birds

The piping guans are a bird genus, Pipile, in the family Cracidae. A recent study, evaluating mtDNA, osteology and biogeography data concluding that the wattled guan belongs in the same genus as these and is a hypermelanistic piping guan. Thus, Pipile became a junior synonym of Aburria, though this conclusion was not accepted by the South American Checklist Committee, or evaluated by the IOC, so the classification remains in Pipile.

Guan (bird) Subfamily of birds

The guans are a number of bird genera which make up the largest group in the family Cracidae. They are found mainly in northern South America, southern Central America, and a few adjacent Caribbean islands. There is also the peculiar horned guan which is not a true guan, but a very distinct and ancient cracid with no close living relatives.

Baudo guan Species of bird

The Baudó guan is a species of bird from the family Cracidae. It is restricted to humid forests in the west Andean foothills of western Colombia and north-western Ecuador. It is highly sensitive to hunting and habitat destruction, with large sections of the main distribution in the Chocó having already disappeared. Consequently, it is considered to be endangered by BirdLife International and IUCN.

<i>Neolamprologus</i> Genus of fishes

Neolamprologus is a genus of cichlids endemic to eastern Africa with all but one species, Neolamprologus devosi from the Malagarasi River, occurring in Lake Tanganyika. It is the largest genus of cichlids in Lake Tanganyika and also the largest genus in the tribe Lamprologini, which includes Altolamprologus, Chalinochromis, Julidochromis, Lamprologus, Lepidiolamprologus, Telmatochromis and Variabilichromis. The latter is a monotypic genus doubtfully distinct from Neolamprologus.

Great curassow Species of bird

The great curassow is a large, pheasant-like bird from the Neotropical rainforests, its range extending from eastern Mexico, through Central America to western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador. Male birds are black with curly crests and yellow beaks; females come in three colour morphs, barred, rufous and black. These birds form small groups, foraging mainly on the ground for fruits and arthropods, and the occasional small vertebrate, but they roost and nest in trees. This species is monogamous, the male usually building the rather small nest of leaves in which two eggs are laid. This species is threatened by loss of habitat and hunting, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as "vulnerable".

Helmeted curassow Species of bird

The helmeted curassow or northern helmeted curassow, is a large terrestrial bird in the family Cracidae found in the subtropical cloud-forest in steep, mountainous regions of western Venezuela and northern Colombia. There are two subspecies found in different mountain ranges. It is a mostly black bird with a white tip to its tail, a red bill and a distinctive grey casque on its forehead. The population of this bird is in decline and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as "endangered".

<i>Pauxi</i> Genus of birds

The genus Pauxi consists of the three species of helmeted curassows, terrestrial black fowl with ornamental casque on their heads. All are found in South America.

Alagoas curassow Species of bird

The Alagoas curassow is a glossy-black, pheasant-like bird. It was formerly found in forests in Northeastern Brazil in what is now the states of Pernambuco and Alagoas, which is the origin of its common name. It is now extinct in the wild; there are about 130 individuals in captivity.

Wattled curassow Species of bird

The wattled curassow is a threatened member of the family Cracidae, the curassows, guans, and chachalacas. It is found in remote rainforests in the western Amazon basin in South America. Males have black plumage, except for a white crissum, with curly feathers on the head and red bill ornaments and wattles. Females and juveniles are similar but lack the bill ornamentation and have a reddish-buff crissum area. The wattled curassow is the most ancient lineage of the southern Crax curassows. In captivity, it sometimes hybridises with the blue-billed curassow.

Chachalaca Genus of birds

Chachalacas are galliform birds from the genus Ortalis. These birds are found in wooded habitats in the far southern United States (Texas), Mexico, and Central and South America. They are social, can be very noisy and often remain fairly common even near humans, as their relatively small size makes them less desirable to hunters than their larger relatives. As agricultural pests, they have a ravenous appetite for tomatoes, melons, beans, and radishes and can ravage a small garden in short order. They travel in packs of six to twelve. They somewhat resemble the guans, and the two have commonly been placed in a subfamily together, though the chachalacas are probably closer to the curassows.

Horned guan Species of bird

The horned guan is a large, approximately 85 cm (33 in) long, turkey-like bird with glossy black dorsal plumage, red legs, a white iris, a yellow bill, and a red horn on top of its head. The breast and upper belly are white, and its long tail feathers are black with a white band near the base. Both sexes are similar. The young are duller with a smaller horn, and have a brown tail and wings.

<i>Penelope</i> (genus) Genus of birds

Penelope is a bird genus in the family Cracidae consisting of a number of large turkey-like arboreal species, the typical guans. The range of these species is in forests from southern Mexico to tropical South America. These large birds have predominantly brown plumage and have relatively small heads when compared to the size of their bodies; they also bear a characteristic dewlap. Body lengths are typically 65 to 95 centimeters.

Horned curassow Species of bird

The horned curassow, or southern helmeted curassow, is a species of bird in the family Cracidae found in humid tropical and subtropical forests. It was first described by James Bond and Rodolphe Meyer de Schauensee in 1939 from a specimen collected in Bolivia, and further birds that were described from Peru in 1971 were thought to be a new subspecies. However, the taxonomical position of the birds found in Peru in 1971 is unclear. The horned curassow as originally described is endemic to Bolivia. It is a large, predominantly black bird with a distinctive casque on its forehead. It is an uncommon bird with a limited range and is suffering from habitat loss, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being "critically endangered".

<i>Hemixos</i> Genus of birds

Hemixos is a songbird genus in the bulbul family, Pycnonotidae.

The Sira curassow is a species of bird in the family Cracidae. It is found in the Cerros del Sira in central Peru. Its natural habitat is tropical, moist, montane cloud forest.


  1. 1 2 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Curassow"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 636.