Old world vulture

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Old world vulture
Lappet vulture (Torgos tracheliotus) (left) and white-backed vulture (Gyps africanus)

Lappet vulture ( Torgos tracheliotus ) (left) and white-backed vulture ( Gyps africanus )

Sub-stem : Vertebrates (vertebrata)
Class : Birds (aves)
Order : Birds of prey (Accipitriformes)
Family : Hawk species (Accipitridae)
Subfamily : Old world vulture
Scientific name
Peters , 1931

The Old World Vultures (Aegypiinae) are a subfamily of the hawk-like (Accipitridae) and thus belong to the birds of prey (Accipitriformes).


The Old World vultures are large to very large birds. They reach body sizes of up to over one meter and wing spans of up to 2.90 m. Typical of many species is a ruff from which a long bare or short-feathered neck protrudes.

distribution and habitat

Old World vultures are found in southern Europe, Africa and Asia. Open landscapes such as steppes and semi-deserts, but also mountains come into question as living space.


Cap vulture ( Necrosyrtes monachus )
Griffon Vulture ( Gyps fulvus )

Old World vultures are predominantly scavengers . Sailing at great heights, they keep an eye out for carcasses or for conspecifics that have spotted them.

Use in folk medicine

Vultures and old vultures found (evidenced by the so-called vulture tract ) in the European Middle Ages organotherapeutic use in the preparation (for example with vulture eyes, vulture hearts or vulture feathers) of (magical) medicinal or miracle medicines.

Genera and species

Through molecular genetic studies, the three species of bearded vulture , Egyptian vulture and palm vulture , which were also included earlier , were recognized as not belonging to the Old World vultures and placed in their own subfamily Gypaetinae .


  • J. Ferguson-Lees, DA Christie: Raptors of the World. Christopher Helm, London 2001, ISBN 0-7136-8026-1 .
  • HRL Lerner, DP Mindell: Phylogeny of eagles, Old World vultures and other Accipitridae based on nuclear and mitochondrial DNA. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 37, 2005, pp. 327-346, PDF .
  • M. Wink, H. Sauer-Gürth: Phylogenetic Relationships in Diurnal Raptors based on nucleotide sequences of mitochondrial and nuclear marker genes. In: RD Chancellor and B.-U. Meyburg (eds): Raptors Worldwide . Berlin / Budapest 2004, pp. 483–498, PDF .

Web links

Commons : Old World Vultures  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. ↑ Most likely Egyptian vultures , black vultures , griffon vultures and bearded vultures come into question .
  2. Joachim Stürmer, Gundolf Keil: 'Geiertraktat'. In: Author's Lexicon . 2nd Edition. Volume 2 (1980), Col. 1137-1140.
  3. ^ Rainer Möhler: 'Epistula de vulture'. Investigations into an organotherapeutic drug monograph of the early Middle Ages (= Medieval wonder drug tracts. Volume 4). Wellm, Pattensen near Hanover (now Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg) 1990 (= Würzburg medical-historical research. Volume 45.).
  4. Joachim Stürmer: "Von deme gîre". Investigations into an old German drug monograph of the High Middle Ages (= Medieval miracle drug tracts. Volume 1), Wellm, Pattensen near Hann. (now Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg) 1978 (= Würzburg medical-historical research. Volume 12). At the same time medical dissertation in Würzburg. See also Christoph Gerhardt: Arznei und Symbol. Comments on the old German vulture treatise with an outlook on the pelican temple. In: Wolfgang Harms, Heimo Reinitzer (ed.): Natural history and allegorical interpretation of nature. Aspects of the world view between the 13th and 19th centuries. Bern / Frankfurt am Main 1980 (= Mikrokosmos. Volume 7), pp. 109-182.
  5. Joachim Stürmer: Further traditions of the Middle High German 'Geiertraktat' and an Old High German translation of the 'Epistula de vulture'. In: Gundolf Keil (ed.): "Gelêrter der arzenîe, ouch apotêker". Contributions to the history of science (commemorative publication Willem F. Daems). Pattensen (now: Würzburg) 1982 (= Würzburg medical history research. Volume 24), pp. 443–478.
  6. ^ F. Hernández Carrasquilla: A new species of vulture (Aves, Aegypiinae) from the upper pleistocene of Spain . Ardeola 48 (1), 2001, 47-53 ( online ; PDF; 1.7 MB)