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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Cladus: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Cladus: Holozoa
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Megaclassis: Osteichthyes
Cladus: Sarcopterygii
Cladus: Rhipidistia
Cladus: Tetrapodomorpha
Cladus: Eotetrapodiformes
Cladus: Elpistostegalia
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Cladus: Avemetatarsalia
Cladus: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauriformes
Cladus: Dracohors
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Eusaurischia
Subordo: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Cladus: Averostra
Cladus: Tetanurae
Cladus: Avetheropoda
Cladus: Coelurosauria
Cladus: Tyrannoraptora
Cladus: Maniraptoromorpha
Cladus: Maniraptoriformes
Cladus: Maniraptora
Cladus: Pennaraptora
Cladus: Paraves
Cladus: Eumaniraptora
Cladus: Avialae
Infraclassis: Aves
Cladus: Euavialae
Cladus: Avebrevicauda
Cladus: Pygostylia
Cladus: Ornithothoraces
Cladus: Ornithuromorpha
Cladus: Carinatae
Parvclassis: Neornithes
Cohors: Neognathae
Cladus: Neoaves
Cladus: Telluraves
Cladus: Australaves
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Tyranni
Infraordo: Eurylaimides
Superfamilia: Eurylaimoidea

Familia: Philepittidae
Genera: Neodrepanis - Philepitta

Philepittidae Sharpe, 1870
Vernacular names
Deutsch: Lappenpittas
English: Asity
Esperanto: Filepitedoj
suomi: Asitit
magyar: Karélyospompásrigó-félék
日本語: マミヤイロチョウ科
Nederlands: Asities
polski: Brodawniki
русский: Филепиттовые
Zeêuws: Asities
中文: 裸眉鸫科

The asities are a family of birds, Philepittidae, that are endemic to Madagascar. The asities consist of four species in two genera. The Neodrepanis species are known as sunbird-asities and were formerly known as false sunbirds.[1]

Philepitta is now the type-genus of a new bird family, the Philepittidae, into which the asities of Madagascar have been placed.[2]


Asities are small forest birds with sexually dichromic plumage and brightly coloured wattles around the eyes of the males. These wattles, which are most conspicuous during the breeding season, get their colour from arrays of collagen fibres.[3] This method of pigmentation is unique in the animal kingdom. Several other features separate them from the broadbills, they possess twelve tail feathers on extremely short (almost non-existent in the Philepitta species) tails, their syrinx is encased with a large bronchial ring and they have forked tongues adapted to nectivory.[4] They have a long outer primary which buzzes in flight, possibly used in signalling during courtship. The two genera are quite distinct.
Behavior and ecology
Diet and feeding

The major component of the diet of asities is fruit. A wide range of different fruit is taken by the family, and they are among the most important avian dispersers of seeds, as there are very few other frugivorous birds in the forests of Madagascar. They will also take insects. The Neodrepanis sunbird-asities will take nectar, but do so with a long tongue rather than inserting their curved bills far into flowers.

Rainforest asities breed during the Malagasy rainy season, beginning just before the rains in September to November.[4] The velvet asity begins breeding slightly sooner in the north of its range. That species is the only one for which detailed information about breeding is available. It has a polygynous breeding system, with males holding small territories or leks where they display to passing females.[4] Nest building and raising the young is incubation solely by the females. There are reports of yellow-bellied sunbird-asities feeding young in the nest and recently fledged chicks, so there is clearly some variation in breeding strategies in the family. The nests of the family are elaborate; pear-shaped woven structures hanging from branches, similar to those of broadbills, although uniquely amongst birds which weave nests the entrance to the nest is pushed created by pushing through the wall after constructed (instead of the usual scenario where the entrance is weaved into the fabric of the nest).[4]
Status and conservation

One species, the yellow-bellied sunbird-asity, is listed as vulnerable by BirdLife International and the IUCN.[5] It was once considered to be an endangered species, and even possibly extinct; however this was due to a lack of ornithological surveys in its high-altitude range. Subsequent research has found it to be more abundant than previously suspected, although it is still considered threatened due to habitat loss and fragmentation. Schlegel's asity is considered near threatened; it has a highly fragmented distribution but numerous strongholds in inaccessible ravines.[6]
Taxonomy and systematics

They were thought to have been related to the pittas, hence the scientific name of the family, but a 1993 study suggested that they are actually just a subfamily of Eurylaimidae.[7] The morphology of the syrinx is very similar to the Grauer's broadbill of Africa. Here they are considered traditionally as a separate family. Some authors have placed the sapayoa of South America in the family, although it is now considered by many to be in its own family, the Sapayoidae.

Image Genus Living Species
Schlegel's asity (Philepitta schlegeli).jpg Philepitta
  • Velvet asity, Philepitta castanea
  • Schlegel's asity, Philepitta schlegeli
Yellow-bellied Sunbird Asity (Neodrepanis hypoxantha), Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar.jpg Neodrepanis
  • Common sunbird-asity, Neodrepanis coruscans
  • Yellow-bellied sunbird-asity, Neodrepanis hypoxanthus


del Hoyo, J. Elliott, A. & Christie, D. (editors). (2003) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8: Broadbills to Tapaculos. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-87334-50-4
Winkler, D.W.; Billerman, S.M.; Lovette, I.J. (2015). Bird Families of the World. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions. pp. 275–276. ISBN 978-84-941892-0-3.
Prum, R. O.; Morrison, R. L. & Ten Eyck, G. R. (1994). "Structural color production by constructive reflection from ordered collagen arrays in a bird (Philepitta castanea: Eurylaimidae)". Journal of Morphology. 222 (1): 61–72. doi:10.1002/jmor.1052220107. PMID 29865414.
Hawkins, F. (2003) Family Philepittidae (Asities) pp. 94-105 in del Hoyo J., Elliott A. & Christie D.A. (2003) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 8. Broadbills to Tapaculos Lynx Edicions, Barcelona ISBN 84-87334-50-4
BirdLife International (2007) ["BirdLife | Partnership for nature and people". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-15./datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=4042&m=0 Species factsheet: Neodrepanis hypoxantha]. Downloaded from "BirdLife | Partnership for nature and people". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-15. on 16/6/2007
BirdLife International (2007) ["BirdLife | Partnership for nature and people". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-15./datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=4040&m=0 Species factsheet: Philepitta schlegeli]. Downloaded from "BirdLife | Partnership for nature and people". Archived from the original on 2007-07-10. Retrieved 2012-11-15. on 16/6/2007
Prum, R.O. (1993). "Phylogeny, biogeography, and evolution of the broadbills (Eurylaimidae) and asities (Philepittidae) based on morphology" (PDF). Auk. 110 (2): 304–324. JSTOR 4088558.

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