Evolution and systematics

Buntings and New World sparrows are variously treated as a family (Emberizidae; New World finches) or as a subfamily (Emberizinae) of the Fringillidae. Most commonly, however, these are recognized as distinct families. No direct information exists about the origin of these closely related families, but scientists believe that they must have evolved in the New World. Currently all but the Emberizidae are restricted to the New World, and even the buntings are most diverse in the Americas (only 42 species in five genera are found elsewhere). All of the known fossils are from the New World and date from the Lower Pliocene to the Holocene.

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