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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Superphylum: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Cladus: Craniata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Cladus: Reptiliomorpha
Cladus: Amniota
Classis: Reptilia
Cladus: Eureptilia
Cladus: Romeriida
Subclassis: Diapsida
Cladus: Sauria
Infraclassis: Archosauromorpha
Cladus: Crurotarsi
Divisio: Archosauria
Subsectio: Ornithodira
Subtaxon: Dinosauromorpha
Cladus: Dinosauria
Ordo: Saurischia
Cladus: Theropoda
Cladus: Neotheropoda
Infraclassis: Aves
Ordo: Passeriformes
Subordo: Tyranni
Infraordo: Tyrannides
Parvordo: Furnariida
Superfamilia: Formicaroidea

Familia: Formicariidae
Genera: ChamaezaFormicarius

Formicariidae Gray, 1840

Typus: Formicarius Boddaert, 1783


Formicarinae (protonym)


Gray, G.R. 1840. A list of the genera of birds, with an indication of the typical species of each genus, compiled from various sources. 80 pp. Richard and John Taylor (London). First citation p.25: as Formicarinae BHL DOI: 10.5962/bhl.title.13777 Reference page.

Vernacular names
Deutsch: Ameisenpittas
English: Antthrushes
español: Formicarios; tovacás
hrvatski: Mravarice
lietuvių: Skruzdlesiniai
Nederlands: Miervogels
slovenščina: Mravljarji
中文: 蚁鸫科

Formicariidae is a family of smallish passerine birds of subtropical and tropical Central and South America known as formicariids. They are between 10 and 20 cm (4 and 8 in) in length, and are related to the antbirds, Thamnophilidae, and gnateaters, Conopophagidae. This family contains probably (see below) some 12 species in two fairly small genera.

These are forest birds that tend to feed on insects at or near the ground. Most are drab in appearance with shades of (rusty) brown, black, and white being their dominant tones. Compared to other birds that specialize in following ants, this family is the most tied to the ground. The long, powerful legs (which lend the birds a distinctive upright posture) and an essentially vestigial tail aid this lifestyle.

They lay two or three eggs in a nest in a tree, both sexes incubating.


The antthrushes in the genera Formicarius and Chamaeza are similar in appearance to small rails. Their sexes are alike in plumage, and they walk like starlings. The thrush part of the name refers only to the similarity in size (and in Chamaeza also coloration) to true thrushes, not to an evolutionary relationship.

Recent research (Irestedt et al. 2002, Rice 2005a,b) indicates that the Formicariidae as previously delimited are highly paraphyletic, judging from comparison of several mt and nDNA sequences. The aberrant bar-bellied "antpittas" of the genus Pittasoma, which were formerly placed here, belong to the gnateater family (which initially was also considered part of the Formicariidae); as the gnateaters proper, they are sexually dichromatic. In addition, the true antpittas formerly placed in this family are now found in their own family, the Grallariidae. On the other hand, at least a large proportion of the Rhinocryptidae (tapaculos), including the type genus Rhinocrypta, seem to be closer to the antthrushes, but are still considered a distinct family.

Very little molecular data is currently available for rhinocryptids, which are moreover rather non-diagnostic morphologically. As relationships with related groups such as ovenbirds have not been fully resolved, it is certain that the systematics of the group will be revised soon, but it is not clear how exactly the new systematic lineup will be. On the other hand, morphological, behavioral and molecular analyses of the true antpittas agree astoundingly well as regards their internal systematics, considering the high amount of lifestyle-related homoplasies in the birds discussed here. Recent taxonomic favor has moved three major lineages – antthrushes, tapaculos and allies, and antpittas into separate families.

Typical antthrushes - tribe Formicariini/subfamily Formicariinae

Image Genus Living species
Formicarius colma -Vale do Ribeira, Registro, Sao Paulo, Brazil-8 (1).jpg Formicarius Boddaert, 1783
  • Rufous-capped antthrush, Formicarius colma
  • Black-headed antthrush, Formicarius nigricapillus
  • Black-faced antthrush, Formicarius analis
  • Mayan antthrush, Formicarius moniliger
  • Rufous-fronted antthrush, Formicarius rufifrons
  • Rufous-breasted antthrush, Formicarius rufipectus
Chamaeza meruloides - Such's Anttrush; Iporanga, São Paulo, Brazil.jpg Chamaeza Vigors, 1825
    • Short-tailed antthrush, Chamaeza campanisona
    • Cryptic antthrush, Chamaeza meruloides
    • Barred antthrush, Chamaeza mollissima
    • Striated antthrush, Chamaeza nobilis
    • Rufous-tailed antthrush, Chamaeza ruficauda
    • Schwartz's antthrush, Chamaeza turdina


Irestedt, Martin; Fjeldså, Jon; Johansson, Ulf S. & Ericson, Per G.P. (2002): Systematic relationships and biogeography of the tracheophone suboscines (Aves: Passeriformes). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 23(3): 499–512. doi:10.1016/S1055-7903(02)00034-9 (HTML abstract)
Rice, Nathan H. (2005a): Phylogenetic relationships of antpitta genera (Passeriformes: Formicariidae). Auk 122(2): 673–683. [English with Spanish abstract] DOI:10.1642/0004-8038(2005)122[0673:PROAGP]2.0.CO;2 PDF fulltext
Rice, Nathan H. (2005b): Further Evidence for Paraphyly of the Formicariidae (Passeriformes). Condor 107(4): 910–915. [English with Spanish abstract] doi:10.1650/7696.1 PDF fulltext

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