The Life of Animals | Falcon | Compared to other birds of prey, the fossil record of the Falcons is not well distributed in time. Falcons are roughly divisible into three or four groups. The first contains the Kestrels (Probably excepting the American Kestrel) usually small and stocky Falcons of Mainly brown upperside color and Sometimes sexually dimorphic; three African Species That are Generally gray in color stand apart from the typical members of this group. Kestrels feed chiefly on terrestrial vertebrates and invertebrates of Appropriate size, Such as rodents, Reptiles, or Insects. The second group contains slightly larger (on average) and more elegant species, the hobbies and relatives.

Third are the Peregrine Falcon and its relatives: large powerful birds the which also have a black malar area (except some very light color morphs), and Often a black cap also. As opposed to the other groups, where tail color varies much in general but little According to evolutionary relatedness, the tails of the large Falcons are quite uniformly dark gray with black appeal and rather inconspicuous small white tips, though this is Probably  lesiomorphic. These large Falco feed on mid-sized birds and terrestrial vertebrates. Very similar to these and Sometimes included therein are the four or so species of hierofalcons (literally, "hawk-Falcons"). 

Notably, Their undersides have a lengthwise pattern of blotches, lines or arrowhead marks. A study of mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data of some Kestrels (Groombridge et al. 2002) Identified a clade containing the Common Kestrel and related "malar-striped species, to the exclusion of Such taxa as the Greater Kestrel (which lacks a malar stripe) , the Lesser Kestrel (which is very similar to the Common but also has no malar stripe), and the American Kestrel.

The malar-striped Kestrels Apparently split from Their relatives in the Gelasian, roughly 2.5-2 mya, and Apparently acres of tropical East African origin. The entire "true Kestrel" group, excluding the American species, is Probably a distinct and quite young clade, as also suggested by Their numerous apomorphies. Other studies have confirmed That the hierofalcons are a monophyletic group-and, Incidentally, that hybridization is quite frequent at least in the larger falcon species. Initial studies of mtDNA cytochrome b sequence data suggested hiero falcons That the Falcons are basal Among living. The phylogeny and delimitations of the Peregrine and hobbies groups is more problematic.

The origin of today's major Falcon groups-the "typical" hobbies and Kestrels for example, or the Peregine-hierofalcon complex, or the Aplomado Falcon lineage-can be quite confidently placed from the Miocene-Pliocene boundary through the Zanclean and Piacenzian and just into the Gelasian, that is from about 8 to 2.4 million years ago, the malar-striped Pls Kestrels diversified. Some groups of Falcons, Such as the hierofalcon complex or the Peregrine-Barbary superspecies have only evolved in more recent times; the species of the former seem to be a mere 120,000 years old or so

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