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10 September 2021 The correct name of the antpitta clade
Jimmy Gaudin, Laurent Raty, George Sangster
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Antbirds, which currently constitute three families, were formerly placed in the single family Formicariidae (Wetmore 1930, Peters 1951, Morony et al. 1975), until Sibley & Ahlquist (1990) showed that typical antbirds (Thamnophilidae) and ground antbirds and antpittas (Formicariidae) are not sister groups. More recent phylogenetic analyses have further clarified relationships among antbirds, and have shown that the ground antbirds (Formicarius, Chamaeza) and antpittas form distinct clades that are also not sister taxa (Irestedt et al. 2002, Chesser 2004, Rice 2005a,b, Moyle et al. 2009, Harvey et al. 2020). The antpitta clade is well supported and comprises the genera Grallaria, Grallaricula, Myrmothera, Hylopezus and Cryptopezus (Rice 2005a,b, Moyle et al. 2009, Carneiro et al. 2019, Harvey et al. 2020).

Several recent works have used the family-group name Grallariidae for the antpitta clade (Irestedt et al. 2002, Moyle et al. 2009, Ohlson et al. 2013, Dickinson & Christidis 2014, Fjeldså et al. 2020). This name was introduced at subfamily rank by Sclater (1890) (not Sclater & Salvin 1873, as listed by Bock 1994). Bock (1994) correctly pointed out that because the genus name Hypsibemon Cabanis, 1847, was synonymised with Grallaria Vieillot, 1816, prior to 1961, and Hypsibemoninae Sundevall, 1872, has been replaced by Grallariidae, the latter name takes precedence from 1872. Nevertheless, the family-group name Myrmotherinae MacGillivray, 1839, predates Grallariinae P. L. Sclater, 1890 [1872], by several decades. Myrmotherinae cannot be regarded as a ‘nomen oblitum’ (sensu ICZN 1999, Art 23.9.1) because it was used as a valid subfamily name in Cory & Hellmayr (1924), Zotta (1938) and Schwartz (1957). Thus, the correct name of the antpitta clade is Myrmotheridae. We have traced the erroneous use of Grallariidae for the antpitta clade to Lowery & O’Neill (1969), who appear to be the first to have re-used this name (as Grallariinae).

Phylogenomic analyses have shown that the antpitta clade (Myrmotheridae) is sister to a clade consisting of the tapaculos (Rhinocryptidae Wetmore, 1926; not Wetmore 1930, as listed by Bock 1994), the ground antbirds (Formicariidae G. R. Gray, 1840), and the ovenbirds and woodcreepers (Furnariidae G. R. Gray, 1840) (Oliveros et al. 2017, Feng et al. 2020, Harvey et al. 2020), although some previous studies (e.g., Rice 2005b, Moyle et al. 2009) had found the antpittas to be sister solely to the tapaculos. The latter two clades were combined by Moyle et al. (2009) in the superfamily Grallarioidea. The genus Rhinomya Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1832, was synonymised with Rhinocrypta G. R. Gray, 1841, prior to 1961, and Rhinomyadae d'Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837, has been replaced by Rhinocryptidae. The latter thus takes precedence from 1837, and is senior to both Myrmotherinae and Grallariinae. The superfamily consisting of the tapaculos and the antpittas, if recognised, should therefore be called Rhinocryptoidea Wetmore, 1926 [1837].


We are grateful to R. Terry Chesser and Nathan H. Rice who provided valuable suggestions that improved the manuscript.



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© 2021 The Authors;
Jimmy Gaudin, Laurent Raty, and George Sangster "The correct name of the antpitta clade," Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club 141(3), 363-365, (10 September 2021).
Received: 20 May 2021; Published: 10 September 2021
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