Discovery of a relict lineage and monotypic family of passerine birds

Per Alström , Daniel M. Hooper , Yang Liu , Urban Olsson , Dhananjai Mohan , Magnus Gelang , Hung Le Manh , Jian Zhao , Fumin Lei , Trevor D. Price


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.

  • Received December 16, 2013.
  • Accepted February 7, 2014.
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