Bill moderately high, compressed, much hooked at the end, culmen curved throughout; nostrils oval, longitudinal and concealed by long bristles directed forwards from the cere and lores; another tuft of black bristles descending perpendicularly from the chin; tarsi feathered to the toes ; feet fairly strong with moderate claws, blunt and well curved ; wings long and very pointed, the third primary longest and the first between the fifth and sixth; tail of twelve feathers, long and very much graduated.
The position of the Lammergeyer seems to he one of great uncertainty. Sclater places it as one genus of bis Falconidae, Kirke-Swann gives it. the rank of a subfamily, Gypaetinae, between the Butioninae and Aquilinae. To me it certainly seems to be intermediate between the Vultures and the true Falconinae and to deserve the rank of a subfamily if not of a distinct family. In life-characters it is a Vulture, though a very magnificent one.
The Subfamily contains one genus, consisting of one species only, which is found in the Mountains of the Sub-Palaearctic and Aethiopian regions.