Molecular and morphological data were used to derive a phylogenetic hypothesis for the Eurylaimides, an Old World bird group now known to be distributed pantropically, and to investigate the evolution and biogeography of the group. Phylogenetic results indicated that the Eurylaimides consist of two monophyletic groups, the pittas (Pittidae) and the broadbills (Eurylaimidae sensu lato), and that the broadbills consist of two highly divergent clades, one containing the sister genera Smithornis and Calyptomena, the other containing Pseudocalyptomena graueri, Sapayoa aenigma, the asity genera Philepitta and Neodrepanis, and five Asian genera. Our results indicate that over a ~10 million year time span in the early Tertiary, the Eurylaimides came to inhabit widely disjunct tropical regions and evolved disparate morphology, diet, and breeding behavior. Biogeographically, although a southern origin for the lineage is likely, time estimates for major lineage splitting do not correspond to Gondwanan vicariance events, and the biogeographic history of the crown clade is better explained by Laurasian climatic and geological processes. In particular, the timing and phylogenetic pattern suggest a likely Laurasian origin for the sole New World representative of the group, Sapayoa aenigma.
Additional publication details
Phylogeny and evolutionary history of Old World suboscine birds (Aves: Eurylaimides)