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Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


King Vulture Sarcoramphus papa

Melissa Holste, Janet M. Ruth, and Jack C. Eitniear
Version: 1.0 — Published December 19, 2014


Geographic Variation

King Vulture is monotypic .


Related Species

From Kirk and Mossman (1998):

Systematic relationship of New World vultures (Cathartidae) still controversial. Traditionally placed in Falconiformes with 4 other families of diurnal birds of prey, with which the cathartids share many ecological and morphological traits (e.g., flight mode, scavenging habits, hooked bill, migration flight mode, and migratory routes). Close relationship with storks (Ciconiidae), long proposed, has more recently been accepted on basis of morphological, behavioral, and molecular studies Phylogenetic analysis, however, based on syringeal morphology and reanalysis of DNA-DNA hybridization data support inclusion of cathartids with Falconiformes. Furthermore, characters thought to be shared only by storks and New World vultures are found in other groups; e.g., urohidrosis also found in boobies (Sulidae) . Some recent studies of molecular data have been unable to resolve relationship with storks, perhaps because of ancient date of divergence on correction of Avise et al. 1994 . Storks and Shoebill (Balaeniceps rex) share unique, derived ear bone morphology, whereas cathartids have primitive condition of this bone, indicating that if New World vultures are related to storks, they diverged long ago from the stork lineage .

Originally described as Vultur gyrphus by Linnaeus (1758), from two captive birds in London. Species name gryphus was subsequently changed to papa (Linnaeus (1758). In 1805 the genus was  changed to Sarcoramphus (Dumeril 1805). Zimmermann (in Bartram 1793) proposed a new species [Vultur] Sarcoramphus sacer . The validity of the species has been questioned in recent times (Mlikovsky 2015).

Recommended Citation

Holste, M., J. M. Ruth, and J. C. Eitniear (2014). King Vulture (Sarcoramphus papa), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.kinvul1.01