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Junglefowl are the four living species of bird from the genus Gallus in the bird order Galliformes, which occur in India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia.

Temporal range: Late Miocene–recent
Gallus sonneratii - female (Thattekad), crop.jpg
Grey junglefowl (G. sonneratii) hen
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Subfamily: Phasianinae
Genus: Gallus
Brisson, 1760
Type species
Phasianus gallus
Linnaeus, 1758
  • four species:
Gallus distribution.jpg
     Gallus gallus     Gallus lafayettii     Gallus sonneratii     Gallus varius

These are large birds, with colourful male plumage, but are nevertheless difficult to see in the dense vegetation they inhabit.

As with many birds in the pheasant family, the male takes no part in the incubation of the egg or rearing of the precocial young. These duties are performed by the drab and well-camouflaged female.

The junglefowl are seed-eaters, but insects are also taken, particularly by the young birds.

One of the species in this genus, the red junglefowl, is of historical importance as the likely ancestor of the domesticated chicken, although the grey junglefowl has been suggested to be also involved.[1]

The Sri Lankan junglefowl is the national bird of Sri Lanka.



The genus Gallus was erected by the French scientist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in his Ornithologie published in 1760.[2] The type species is the red junglefowl (Gallus gallus).[3] The Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus had introduced the genus Gallus in the 6th edition of his Systema Naturae published in 1748,[4] but Linnaeus dropped the genus in the important tenth edition of 1758 and put the red junglefowl together with the common pheasant in the genus Phasianus.[5][6] As the publication date of Linnaeus's sixth edition was before the 1758 starting point of the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, Brisson and not Linnaeus is considered as the authority for the genus.[7]

Extant speciesEdit

The genus contains four species:[8]

Image Scientific name Common Name Distribution
  Gallus gallus Red junglefowl or chicken Tamil Nadu[citation needed], India, eastwards across Indochina and southern China and into Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines and Indonesia
  Gallus lafayettii Sri Lankan junglefowl Sri Lanka
  Gallus sonneratii Grey junglefowl Indian Peninsula, but extends into Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, and south Rajasthan
  Gallus varius Green junglefowl Java, Bali, Lombok, Komodo, Flores, Rinca, and small islands linking Java with Flores, Indonesia


Prehistorically, the genus Gallus was found all over Eurasia; in fact, it appears to have evolved in southeastern Europe. Several fossil species have been described, but their distinctness is not firmly established in all cases:

  • Gallus aesculapii (Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Greece) - possibly belongs into Pavo
  • Gallus moldovicus (Late Pliocene of Moldavia) - sometimes misspelt moldavicus, may be synonym of Pavo bravardi
  • Gallus beremendensis (Late Pliocene/Early Pleistocene of Eastern Europe)
  • Giant junglefowl Gallus karabachensis (Early Pleistocene of Nagorno-Karabakh)
  • Gallus tamanensis (Early Pleistocene? of Taman Peninsula)
  • Gallus kudarensis (Early/Middle Pleistocene of Kudaro, South Ossetia)
  • Gallus europaeus (Middle Pleistocene of Italy)
  • Gallus sp. (Middle/Late Pleistocene of Trinka Cave, Moldavia)
  • Gallus imereticus (Late Pleistocene of Gvardjilas-Klde, Imeretia)
  • Gallus meschtscheriensis (Late Pleistocene of Soungir, Russia)
  • Gallus georgicus (Late Pleistocene - Early Holocene of Georgia)
  • Gallus sp. (Late Pleistocene of Krivtcha Cave, Ukraine)
  • Gallus sp. (Early Holocene of Dnieper region)


  1. ^ Eriksson, J.; et al. (2008). "Identification of the yellow skin gene reveals a hybrid origin of the domestic chicken". PLoS Genetics. 4 (2). e1000010. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000010.
  2. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode contenant la division des oiseaux en ordres, sections, genres, especes & leurs variétés (in French and Latin). Volume 1. Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. Vol. 1, p. 26, Vol. 1, p. 166.
  3. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1934). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 2. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 118.
  4. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1748). Systema Naturae sistens regna tria naturae, in classes et ordines, genera et species redacta tabulisque aeneis illustrata (in Latin) (6th ed.). Stockholmiae (Stockholm): Godofr, Kiesewetteri. pp. 16, 28.
  5. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1758). Systema Naturæ per regna tria naturae, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Volume 1 (10th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 158.
  6. ^ Allen, J.A. (1910). "Collation of Brisson's genera of birds with those of Linnaeus". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 28: 317–335.
  7. ^ "Article 3". International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (4th ed.). London: International Trust for Zoological Nomenclature. 1999. ISBN 978-0-85301-006-7.
  8. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Pheasants, partridges & francolins". World Bird List Version 7.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  • Steve Madge; Philip J. K. McGowan; Guy M. Kirwan (2002). Pheasants, Partidges and Grouse: A Guide to the Pheasants, Partridges, Quails, Grouse, Guineafowl, Buttonquails and Sandgrouse of the World. A&C Black. ISBN 978-0-7136-3966-7.