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Elachuridae - Spotted Wren-babbler

Spotted Wren-babbler
Spotted Wren-babbler Elachura formosa ©Per Alström et al Website

In 2014 a group of ornithologists led by Dr Trevor Price of the University of Chicago described a new family of birds found in China, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Based on analysis of one of the most comprehensive datasets to date of Passerida, the largest passerine bird group, Dr Price and his colleagues identified nine primary lineages (Sylvioidea, Muscicapoidea, Certhioidea, Passeroidea, the bombycillids, Paridae/Remizidae, Stenostiridae, Hyliotidae, Regulidae), and a relict lineage represented by the Spotted wren-babbler. It was previously included in the genus Spelaeornis as Spelaeornis formosus along with eight other species of wren-babblers.

It is represented by just one species:

Spotted Wren-babbler Elachura formosa.

Family Links

Spotted Wren-Babbler Elachuridae

Family Account

Alström et al. (2014) were interested in the evolution of Asian babblers. The international team amassed a huge DNA sequence dataset for the Passerida, which represents about 60% of global bird species. They found the Passerida was composed of ten clades [evolutionary lineages], nine of which were expected.

Species Links

Spotted Wren-Babbler Elachuridae

HBW Species Account

T[roglodytes]. formosus Walden, 1874, Darjeeling, India. Commonly placed in genus Spelaeornis; possibly closer to Pnoepyga. However, a recent molecular study suggests that this species represents a relict basal lineage within the clade Passerida, with no close extant relatives, the name Elachuridae having been proposed for a new, monotypic family. Recently discovered population in Indochina (Laos) apparently lacks white spotting on throat and breast, and may represent a separate race. Currently treated as monotypic.

Spotted Wren-Babbler Elachuridae

BirdLife Species Account

Spotted Wren-babbler Elachura formosa

Species Account

The spotted elachura or spotted wren-babbler (Elachura formosa) is a species of passerine bird found in the forests of the eastern Himalayas and Southeast Asia. In the past it was included in the babbler genus Spelaeornis as S. formosus, but molecular phylogenetic studies in 2014 provided evidence that it was distinct from the babblers and part of a basal lineage (one that diverged early) with no other close living relatives within the passerine bird clade Passerida. This led to the creation of a new family, Elachuridae, to accommodate just one species (a monotypic taxon).