Monday, March 10, 2014

[Ornithology • 2014] Elachuridae fam. n. • Discovery of a Relict Lineage and Monotypic Family of Passerine Birds | Spotted Wren-Babbler | Elachura formosa (formerly Spelaeornis formosus)

A spotted wren-babbler, Elachura formosa
(previously Spelaeornis formosus) sings its distinctive song.
 photo: Ramki Sreenivasan [doi:]


Analysis of one of the most comprehensive datasets to date of the largest passerine bird clade, Passerida, identified 10 primary well-supported lineages corresponding to Sylvioidea, Muscicapoidea, Certhioidea, Passeroidea, the ‘bombycillids’ (here proposed to be recognized as Bombycilloidea), Paridae/Remizidae (proposed to be recognized as Paroidea), Stenostiridae, Hyliotidae, Regulidae (proposed to be recognized as Reguloidea) and spotted wren-babbler Spelaeornis formosus. The latter was found on a single branch in a strongly supported clade with Muscicapoidea, Certhioidea and Bombycilloidea, although the relationships among these were unresolved. We conclude that the spotted wren-babbler represents a relict basal lineage within Passerida with no close extant relatives, and we support the already used name Elachura formosa and propose the new family name Elachuridae for this single species.

Keywords: Elachura formosa, old species, Passerida, Spelaeornis formosus, systematics, นกจู๋เต้นลายจุด

Spotted wren-babbler Elachura formosa (previously Spelaeornis  formosus);
Wuyi Shan, Jiangxi, China, April 2013 (IOZ 18251)


Figure 1: Distribution of the spotted wren-babbler, Elachura formosa
(formerly Spelaeornis formosus). Sampling localities indicated by dots. [doi:]

Alström P., Hooper D.M., Liu Y., Olsson U., Mohan D., Gelang M., Hung L.M., Zhao J., Lei F. & Price T.D. 2014. Discovery of a Relict Lineage and Monotypic Family of Passerine Birds. Biology Letters. 10 (3) doi:

What's old is new again: newly discovered songbird family is ancient via @guardian @GrrlScientist 
  New bird family discovered in Asia