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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Ordo: Gruiformes

Familia: Rallidae
Genus: Rallus
Species: R. aequatorialis – R. antarcticus – R. aquaticus – R. caerulescens – R. crepitans – R. elegans – R. indicus – R. limicola – R. longirostris – R. madagascariensis – R. obsoletus – R. semiplumbeus – R. tenuirostris – R. wetmorei

Species extinctae: † R. adolfocaesaris – † R. carvaoensis – † R. gracilipes – † R. lowei – † R. nanus – † R. montivagorum

Rallus Linnaeus, 1758

Gender: masculine
Typus: Rallus aquaticus Linnaeus, 1758
Fixation: Subsequent designation by Fleming 1821: 176.

Primary references

Linnaeus, C. 1758. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis. Editio Decima, Reformata. Tomus I. Holmiæ (Stockholm): impensis direct. Laurentii Salvii. 824 pp. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.542 BHL p. 153 BHL Reference page.
Fleming, J. (1821). On the Water-rail. Memoirs of the Wernerian Natural History Society 3: 174-182

Additional references

Alcover, J.A., Pieper, H., Pereira, F. & Rando, J.C. 2015. Five new extinct species of rails (Aves: Gruiformes: Rallidae) from the Macaronesian Islands (North Atlantic Ocean). Zootaxa 4057(2): 151–200. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4057.2.1. Preview (PDF) Reference page.
Alcover, J.A., Pieper, H., Pereira, F. & Rando, J.C. 2016. Rallus nanus nomen novum: a replacement name for Rallus minutus Alcover et al. 2015. Zootaxa 4085(1): 141–142. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4085.1.8 Reference page.
Takano, O.M. & Steadman, D.W. 2018. Another new species of flightless Rail (Aves: Rallidae: Rallus) from Abaco, The Bahamas. Zootaxa 4407(3): 376–382. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4407.3.5 Reference page.

Vernacular names
беларуская: Пастушкі
English: Rail
日本語: クイナ属
lietuvių: Vandeninės vištelės
русский: Пастушки

Rallus is a genus of wetland birds of the rail family. Sometimes, the genera Lewinia and Gallirallus are included in it. Six of the species are found in the Americas, and the three species found in Eurasia, Africa and Madagascar are very closely related to each other, suggesting they are descended from a single invasion of a New World ancestor.[1]

These are slim, long-billed rails with slender legs. Their laterally flattened bodies are an adaptation to life in wet reedbeds and marshes, enabling them to slip easily through the dense semi-aquatic vegetation. Typically these birds have streaked brown upperparts, blue-grey on the face or breast, and barred flanks. Only the African rail has a plain back, and the plain-flanked rail lacks any blue-grey in its plumage and has no flank bars.[1]

Three endemic South American species are endangered by habitat loss, and the Madagascar rail is becoming rare.


The genus Rallus was erected in 1758 by the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae.[2] The type species was subsequently designated as the water rail (Rallus aquaticus).[3] The genus name Rallus comes from the pre-binomial Latin name Rallus aquaticus for the water rail used by English ornithologist Francis Willughby in 1676,[4] and by the English naturalist Eleazar Albin in 1731.[5] The precise etymology of the word Rallus is uncertain.[6]

The genus contains 14 extant species:[7]
Image Common Name Scientific name Distribution
Rallus aequatorialis Keulemans.jpg Ecuadorian rail Rallus aequatorialis southwestern Colombia to southwestern Peru.
Rallus antarcticus.jpg Austral rail Rallus antarcticus Argentina and Chile.
Rallus aquaticus 2 (Marek Szczepanek) cropped.jpg Water rail Rallus aquaticus Europe, Asia and North Africa.
African Rail, Rallus caerulescens at Marievale Nature Reserve, Gauteng, South Africa (20626467274).jpg African rail Rallus caerulescens from Ethiopia to South Africa.
Clapper Rail, Crisfield, Maryland 1.jpg Clapper rail Rallus crepitans eastern U.S., the Gulf of Mexico, eastern Mexico, some Caribbean islands, and south through eastern Central America.
Blending in.jpg King rail Rallus elegans southern United States and Mexico; in Canada, they are found in southern Ontario.
Eastern Water Rail.jpg Brown-cheeked rail Rallus indicus northern Mongolia, eastern Siberia, northeast China, Korea and northern Japan.
Rallus limicola -Cloisters Park, Morro Bay, California, USA-8 (1).jpg Virginia rail Rallus limicola southern United States and Central America.
Rallus longirostris - 1700-1880 - Print - Iconographia Zoologica - Special Collections University of Amsterdam - UBA01 IZ17500025.tif Mangrove rail Rallus longirostris northeast Colombia, northwest Venezuela ,Brazil, Trinidad
Rallus madagascariensis.jpg Madagascar rail Rallus madagascariensis Madagascar.
Ridgway's Rail (16619348990).jpg Ridgway's rail Rallus obsoletus southeastern California and southern Arizona, to northwestern Mexico.
Rallus semiplumbeus.jpg Bogotá rail Rallus semiplumbeus Colombia.
Mexican Rail (Rallus tenuirostris) - Bird notes (1911).jpg Aztec rail Rallus tenuirostris Mexico.
Plain-flanked rail Rallus wetmorei Venezuela.
Fossil record

Rallus sp. (Sajóvölgyi Middle Miocene of Mátraszõlõs, Hungary)[8]
Rallus sp. (Rexroad Late Pliocene of Saw Rock Canyon, USA)
Rallus adolfocaesaris Porto Santo rail (prehistoric of Madeira)
Rallus auffenbergi (Middle Pleistocene of SE North America) – formerly Porzana
Rallus carvaoensis São Miguel rail (prehistoric of São Miguel Island in the Azores)
Rallus cyanocavi (Late Pleistocene of the Bahamas)
Rallus eivissensis, Ibiza rail (prehistoric)
Rallus ibycus (Shore Hills Late Pleistocene of Bermuda, W Atlantic)
Rallus lacustris (Late Pliocene of C North America)
Rallus lowei Madeira rail (prehistoric of Madeira)
Rallus minutus São Jorge rail (prehistoric of São Jorge Island in the Azores) - scientific name is provisional
Rallus montivagorum Pico rail (prehistoric of Pico Island in the Azores)
Rallus natator (Pleistocene of San Josecito Cavern, Mexico) – formerly Epirallus
Rallus phillipsi (Late Pliocene of Wickieup, USA)
Rallus prenticei (Late Pliocene of C North America)
Rallus recessus (St Georges Soil Late Pleistocene of Bermuda, W Atlantic)
Rallus richmondi – includes R. dubius

Formerly in Rallus

"R." arenarius – now Quercyrallus
"R." beaumontii, "R." dispar – now Pararallus or Palaeoaramides
"R." christyi, "R." eximius, "R." minor – now Palaeoaramides
"R." major – now Miorallus
"R." porzanoides – now Paraortygometra

"R." sumiderensis apparently refers to prehistoric remains of the Zapata rail (Cyanolimnas cerverai).

Taylor & van Perlo (1998)
Linnaeus, Carl (1758). Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Vol. 1 (10th ed.). Holmiae:Laurentii Salvii. p. 153.
Peters, James Lee, ed. (1934). Check-list of Birds of the World. Vol. 2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 157.
Willughby, Francis (1676). Ornithologiae libri tres (in Latin). London: John Martyn. p. 234.
Albin, Eleazar; Derham, William (1731). A Natural History of Birds : Illustrated with a Hundred and One Copper Plates, Curiously Engraven from the Life. Vol. 1. London: Printed for the author and sold by William Innys. p. 73.
Jobling, J.A. (2019). del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Sargatal, J.; Christie, D.A.; de Juana, E. (eds.). "Rallus". Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive: Key to Scientific Names in Ornithology. Lynx Edicions. Retrieved 18 July 2019.
Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2019). "Flufftails, finfoots, rails, trumpeters, cranes, limpkin". World Bird List Version 9.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 8 July 2019.

Gál et al. (1998–1999)


Gál, Erika; Hír, János; Kessler, Eugén & Kókay, József (1998–99): Középsõ-miocén õsmaradványok, a Mátraszõlõs, Rákóczi-kápolna alatti útbevágásból. I. A Mátraszõlõs 1. lelõhely [Middle Miocene fossils from the sections at the Rákóczi chapel at Mátraszőlős. Locality Mátraszõlõs I.]. Folia Historico Naturalia Musei Matraensis 23: 33–78. [Hungarian with English abstract] PDF fulltext
Taylor, P. Barry & van Perlo, Ber (1998): Rails : a guide to the rails, crakes, gallinules, and coots of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven. ISBN 0-300-07758-0

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