Tuesday, March 6, 2012

>>Genus Aquila


Aquila chrysaetos
Scientific classification
Subfamily:Buteoninae (disputed)
Brisson, 1760
See text
Hieraaetus Kaup, 1844
and see text
Aquila is the genus of true eagles. It is often united with the buteossea eagles and other more heavyset Accipitridae, but more recently it appears as if they are less distinct from the more slender accipitrine hawks than believed. Eagles are not a natural group but denote essentially anybird of prey large enough to hunt sizeable (about 50 cm long or more overall) vertebrate prey.


Aquila belongs to an extremely close-knit group of "typical" eagles. These include genera likeHieraaetusLophaetusIctinaetus and the extinct Harpagornis, and all these appear to beparaphyletic with regards to the traditional Aquila. Especially some, if not all, species of Hieraaetus, separated primarily due to their smaller size, seem to belong here. The entire "typical eagle" group is in need of a thorough revision, and thus this species list cannot be more than a tentative one at present.
Most problematic is certainly Hieraeetus, the hawk-eagles. It is known that the type species, the Booted Eagle, is very close to some Aquila eagles. Other hawk-eagles might indeed be distinct enough to warrant generic separation, but the name Hieraaetus is not available for them, being ajunior synonym of Aquila as the Booted Eagle is included herein.
  • Bonelli's Eagle, Aquila fasciata - formerly Hieraaetus fasciatus
  • Booted Eagle, Aquila pennata - formerly Hieraaetus pennatus
  • Rufous-bellied Eagle, Aquila kienerii - formerly Hieraaetus kienerii
  • Golden Eagle, Aquila chrysaetos
  • Eastern Imperial Eagle, Aquila heliaca
  • Spanish Imperial Eagle Aquila adalberti
  • Steppe Eagle, Aquila nipalensis
  • Tawny Eagle, Aquila rapax
  • Greater Spotted Eagle, Aquila clanga - to be moved to Lophaetus or Ictinaetus
  • Lesser Spotted Eagle, Aquila pomarina - to be moved to Lophaetus or Ictinaetus
  • Indian Spotted Eagle, Aquila hastata - recently split from A. pomarina, to be moved to Lophaetus or Ictinaetus
  • Verreaux's Eagle, Aquila verreauxii
  • Gurney's Eagle, Aquila gurneyi
  • Wahlberg's Eagle, Aquila wahlbergi
  • Wedge-tailed Eagle, Aquila audax
    • Tasmanian Wedge-tailed Eagle, Aquila audax fleayi

Fossil record

Numerous fossil taxa of eagles have been described. Many have been moved to other genera, but several appear correctly assigned to this genus:
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 EagleAquila minutaBrehm, 1831.
Not placed in Aquila anymore are:
"Aquila" danana (Snake Creek Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Loup Fork, USA), occasionally placed in Geranoaetus or Buteo, was a bird of prey of unclear relationships.
For paleosubspecies of living Aquila, see the species accounts.

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