Guillemot is the
common namefor several species of seabirdin the aukfamily, comprising two genera: " Uria" and " Cepphus". This word of French origin apparently derives from a form of the name William, cf. the _cy. Gwillim or the _fr. Guillaume. [ "Guillemot, n., etymology of" " [http://dictionary.oed.com/ The Oxford English Dictionary] ". 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed Dec 17, 2007]
The "Uria" are known as murres in North America and, together with the
Razorbill, Dovekieand the extinct Great Auk, make up the tribe Alcini. They have distinctly white bellies, thicker, longer bills than "Cepphus" and form very dense colonies on cliffs during the reproductive season.
The three species of "Cepphus" - for which the term "guillemot" is generally reserved in North America - form a tribe of their own: Cepphini. They are smaller than the "Uria" species, have black bellies, rounder heads and bright red feet.
Common Guillemotor Common Murre, " Uria aalge"
Brünnich's Guillemotor Thick-billed Murre, " Uria lomvia"
Some prehistoric species are also known:
* "Uria bordkorbi" (Monterey or Sisquoc Late Miocene of Lompoc, USA)
* "Uria affinis" (Late Pleistocene of E USA) - possibly a subspecies of "U. lomvia"
* "Uria paleohesperis"
"U. brodkorbi" is interesting insofar as it is the only known occurrence of the Alcini tribe in the temperate to subtropical
Pacific, except for the very fringe of the range of "U. aalge". It suggests that the "Uria" species, which are the sister taxonto all the other Alcini, and like them are usually believed to have evolved in the Atlantic, may have evolved in the Caribbeanor possibly close to the Isthmus of Panama. The modern Pacific distribution would then be part of a later arcticexpansion, whereas most other auk lineages form clades with a continuous range in the Pacific, from Arctic to subtropical waters.
Black Guillemotor Tystie, " Cepphus grylle"
Pigeon Guillemot, " Cepphus columba"
Spectacled Guillemot, " Cepphus carbo"
As in other genera of auks, fossils of prehistoric forms of "Cepphus" have been found:
* "Cepphus olsoni" (San Luis Rey River Late Miocene - Early Pliocene of W USA)
* "Cepphus" cf. "columba" (Lawrence Canyon Early Pliocene of W USA)
* "Cepphus" cf. "grylle" (San Diego Late Pliocene, W USA)
The latter two resemble the extant species, but because of the considerable distance in time or space from their current occurrence, they may represent distinct species.
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