Evolution and systematics

The cotingas (Cotingidae) are a striking family of birds. Not widely investigated in the past, cotingas are becoming more widely researched, and the number of studies is increasing. There are no known fossils of this family at the present time.

The common ancestor in cotinga lineage was perhaps similar to the Old World family Eurylaimidae. In addition to giving rise to cotingas, this ancestor also gave rise to manakins and tyrant flycatchers. Indeed, Tityras and Becards, were, until recently, placed within the family Cotingidae, but now are considered tyrant flycatchers (family Tyrannidae). Some species of cotingas such as red-cotingas (Phoenicircus) are considered by some to be the link between the cotinga and man-akin families, based upon morphological and behavioral characteristics. More than one-half of the genera are represented as "superspecies", where there are several closely related "sister taxa" with non-overlapping geographic ranges.

Peters Checklist recognizes 25 genera with 61 species, including: 1. The true cotinga (Cotinga). The males are brilliant blue to purple in different patterns, while the females are dull brown. These birds are found in the tropical zone of the Ama zon forests. There are seven species, including the banded cotinga (Cotinga maculata) which is found in Brazil; 2. The fruiteaters (Pipreola) comprise at least eight species, including the barred fruiteater (Pipreola arcuata); 3. The red-ruffed fruit-crow (Pyroderus scutatus); 4. The capuchin bird (Perissocephalus tricolor); 5. The Amazonian umbrella bird (Cephalopterus or-natus), one of the largest species, with a length of up to 22 in (51 cm); 6. The cocks-of-the-rock (Rupicola) are plump, short-tailed, broad-footed birds. There are two species, including the andean cock-of-the-rock (Rupicola peruviana); and 7. The bellbirds (Procnias), of which there are four species: a. The white bellbird (Procnias alba); b. The bare-throated bellbird (Procnias nudicollis); c. The three-wattled bellbird (Procnias tri-carunculata); and d. The bearded (or mossy-throated) bellbird (Procnias averano).

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