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Genomic and morphometric data used in a demographic study of Coragyps vultures

Cite this dataset

Ericson, Per; Qu, Yanhua (2022). Genomic and morphometric data used in a demographic study of Coragyps vultures [Dataset]. Dryad.


The New World Vulture [Coragyps] occidentalis (L. Miller, 1909) is one of many species that were extinct by the end of the Pleistocene. To understand its evolutionary history we sequenced the genome of a 14,000-year-old [Coragyps] occidentalis found associated with megaherbivores in the Peruvian Andes. occidentalis has been viewed as the ancestor, or possibly sister, to the extant Black Vulture Coragyps atratus, but genomic data shows occidentalis to be deeply nested within the South American clade of atratus. Coragyps atratus inhabits lowlands, but the fossil record indicates that occidentalis mostly occupied high elevations. Our results suggest that occidentalis evolved from a population of atratus in southwestern South America that colonized the High Andes 300 to 400 kya. The morphological and morphometric differences between occidentalis and atratus may thus be explained by ecological diversification following the natural selection imposed by this new and extreme, high-elevation environment. The sudden evolution of a population with significantly larger body size and different anatomical proportions than atratus thus constitutes an example of punctuated evolution.


DNA extracted from museum study skins or from fresh tissue. Morphological data obtained from recent and fossil Coragyps specimens.

Usage notes

The files can be opened in a text editor or with Excel. The zipped files need to be opened with gunzip in Unix.


Vetenskapsrådet, Award: 621-2017-3693

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: NSFC32020103005